On February 27, Robert Kurtycz, former comptroller for Workers United’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and one count of wire fraud in relation to his receipt of unauthorized expense reimbursements totaling $85,962. The Chicago-based joint board, like Workers United, is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. He had been indicted last May on the conspiracy count plus six counts of wire fraud. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.… Read More ➡
On October 17, Rebecca Hedman, an agent for three Chicago-area health care providers, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on one count of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery via cellphone in an unspecified sum. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. The action against Hedman follows the indictment in May of Robert Kurtycz, former comptroller of the Chicago chapters of Workers United and the Midwest Regional Joint Board, each an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, on one count of bribery conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud, one of which involved his receipt of $85,962 in union assets for fake reimbursements.… Read More ➡
On May 7, Robert Kurtycz, former comptroller for Workers United’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on one count of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery plus six counts of wire fraud. The wire fraud charges are related to Kurtycz’s electronic transfer of funds from the Chicago-based labor organization for his receipt of unauthorized expense reimbursements totaling $85,962. Workers United is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The indictments follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.… Read More ➡
Service Employees International Union Local 775, it seems, would do anything for a buck, including collecting dues from a former member. It’s now learned its limitations. On March 29, the Seattle-based union reached an out-of-court agreement with a Spokane home caregiver, Cindy Ochoa, following its admission that one of its canvassers had forged her signature on a membership card. Ochoa, with the help of a nonprofit legal group, the Freedom Foundation, had filed a lawsuit in federal court in October alleging the union had violated her First Amendment rights, unlawfully withheld part of her wages, and caused emotional distress. Local 775 agreed to pay $15,000 in damages to her and $13,000 to the foundation to cover legal fees, plus send her a written apology.
SEIU Local 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term health care providers in Washington State and Montana, many of them operating out of their homes on behalf … Read More ➡
A half-decade ago, the Obama administration, in apparent defiance of federal statutes, issued a rule authorizing states to deduct union dues from home care providers whose income is partly or fully Medicaid-derived. The experiment now has ended. Yesterday, May 2, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to protect non-joining independent providers from having a portion of their paychecks deducted and routed to a union. Public-sector unions have generated an estimated $200 million a year this way. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, calls the reversal “an encouraging action toward stopping union bosses from unlawfully using public payment systems to intercept tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.” The rule is set to take effect on or about July 5.
On January 22, Robert Clearwater, former president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local 14-8, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to three years of supervised probation for embezzling $11,681 in funds from the Topeka union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a special assessment of $700. Clearwater had pleaded guilty to embezzlement and falsifying union financial records last April after being charged in February. NAGE is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Kamala Harris, the junior U.S. senator from California, is a woman in a hurry. Elected in 2016, Harris today announced her candidacy for president in 2020. “I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m very excited about it,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Her track record, however, suggests she would be the kind of president who among other things would cut ethical corners on behalf of labor unions. Back in 2015, Harris, as California attorney general, helped a powerful affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) scotch the purchase of a half-dozen nonprofit health care facilities by a corporate buyer to protect union jobs. While a federal judge twice has dismissed allegations by the buyer, Prime Healthcare, that she abused her office, the case deserves another look.
Obnoxiousness is a universal human trait. But for unions, it’s a tool of persuasion. Large employers, with good reason, are wary. A new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Hardball: The Tactics of Union Corporate Campaigns,” summarizes organized labor’s frequently aggressive, predatory shakedown tactics in the search to win concessions from supposedly morally errant employers. These campaigns, which seek to discredit a targeted firm’s brand name in hopes of winning concessions, involve extensive groundwork; these campaigns can last for years. Unions and their allies test the legal limits of protest, while raising the costs of business. Undeterred by reality, certain lawmakers on Capitol Hill, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are sponsoring bills to repeal safeguards against such behavior.
Few things say “money in the bank” to a public-sector union quite like Medicaid. A proposed federal rule would end this freebie. On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to bar states from using Medicaid funds as a source of dues for unions representing home health care providers. Workers still would have the right to join a union. But non-joiners no longer would be captive of a state agency deducting dues and forwarding them to a union. Over a dozen states now engage in this practice. For organized labor, this arrangement generates around $200 million a year. That’s why unions and the states are resisting the proposed rule in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in June. A recent development in Washington State has strengthened the hand of reluctant dues payers while the department finalizes its rule.… Read More ➡
New York City residents finally are digging out of a devastating post-Christmas blizzard, aided by unexpectedly warmer weather. But a growing number are sounding as if they want to use their shovels against union snowplow workers and their supervisors. Various news outlets have reported that leaders of the Service Employees-affiliated Sanitation Officers Association ordered their Teamsters-affiliated work crews to slack off as a protest against recent City Department of Sanitation budget cuts and demotions. The apparent work slowdown not only paralyzed traffic, but also led to two deaths and any number of commuters trapped overnight in subway cars. On the hot seat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has demanded, and is getting, a full investigation. Union leaders deny culpability, insisting fiscal austerity had reduced manpower. But evidence appears to undercut such claims.
That a king-sized blizzard slammed New York during December 26-27 is something nobody debates. It was the sixth-most powerful in … Read More ➡