Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.

The overlap of union and government interests was especially marked in the public sector. Unions, still smarting from the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in 2018, … Read More ➡

Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton Charged in Teamster Ghost Job Scam

As the fortunes of Chicago-area former Teamster leader John T. Coli Sr. continue to crumble, an overlapping story has emerged. On August 2, Illinois Democratic State Senator Tom Cullerton was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with 40 counts of embezzlement and one count of making a false statement following an indictment by a grand jury. For three years, Cullerton, while working as an organizer for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 734, allegedly received nearly $275,000 in salary and benefits from the Chicago union for doing “little or no work.” Teamsters Joint Council 25, then headed by Coli, had approved the job assignment back in 2013. On August 16, Cullerton pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The indictment of Tom Cullerton (in photo) is an outgrowth of charges against John Coli Sr., who for 25 years was the dominant Teamster official in the Chicago area. … Read More ➡

Ex-Chicago Teamster Boss Coli Pleads Guilty to Shakedowns, Tax Fraud

John T. Coli Sr. has a saying: “Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.” He’s kind of feeling like a hog now. On July 30, Coli (in photo, on right), for years the most powerful Teamster in the Chicago area, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count each of receiving a prohibited payment and filing a false income tax return. The first charge refers to acts of extortion totaling $325,000 from an area employer in order to ensure “labor peace.” He had been slapped with a 13-count superseding indictment in September 2017 after being indicted on six counts that July. Coli resigned as head of Teamsters Local 727 on the day of the initial indictment, clearing the way for his son, John T. Coli Jr., to take over. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office … Read More ➡