Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Senate Reintroduces Employee Rights Act

    The Senate recently reintroduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA), the most comprehensive update to American labor law since the 1940s. Once again, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the sponsor of the legislation. In his words: “Anyone whose real concern is preserving the rights of individual workers should support the Employee Rights Act, which addresses many issues plaguing Americans in the workplace.”

    He is joined by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, who supports “common-sense changes to current labor law to restore and protect the rights of workers.”

    The ERA protects workers from union overreach with eight pro-employee reforms. Among other provisions, the bill would require secret ballot union elections and allow employees to periodically re-assess their union representation. Less than 10 percent of union members ever voted for the union currently “representing” them. Those who did were not guaranteed the right to a private vote. Moreover, union officials are not required to hold recertification elections, which leaves many employees “represented” by union officials they never even voted for. The ERA would make every union vote a private one and make it easier for employees to leave a union unresponsive to their interests.

    Not surprisingly, the ERA’s reforms have broad-based appeal. According to national and regional polls, roughly 80 percent of Americans—including those in union households—support the bill’s key provisions. Fifty free-market organizations, including the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity, have already endorsed the ERA. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board is also supportive.

    Last session, 137 House members and 33 senators co-sponsored the ERA. More co-sponsors are expected this year.

    Categories: Employee Rights Act
  2. Labor Racket Weekly: More Money, More Problems

    Each week, we bring you more cases of union corruption. Here are this week’s best rackets:

    • In Maine, Ryan Jones, former secretary-treasurer of Local S6 Machinists Union pled guilty to embezzlement charges. Jones made 199 unauthorized withdrawals totaling $280,000. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
    • In Michigan, Virdell King, former associate director of the United Auto Workers Union pled guilty to misusing union funds intended to train and retrain union members. As part of her agreement with prosecutors, she faces up to 16 months in prison and restitution payments of up to $15,000.
    • Also in Michigan, John Hamilton, former business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

    Check back next week for more stories of union bosses’ criminal blunders.

    Categories: Labor Racket WeeklyUAW
  3. SEIU’s Fight for $15 Flops, $100 Million Political Campaign Next

    Down goes the Fight for $15? Just four years after its launch, the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) campaign to force a $15 minimum wage down employers’ throats is apparently going the way of OUR Walmart, the failed effort to unionize Walmart in 2015.

    In 2017, the SEIU staged protests in only 30 cities, many of them small in scale. That is down from more than 600 protests last year. As we’ve mentioned before, the SEIU also announced a 10 percent budget cut this year and a 30 percent reduction by 2018.

    Now we know what SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is saving up for. Her union is reportedly planning a $100 million campaign to elect pro-union Democrats in the Midwest come 2018. This in it of itself is no surprise, as union bosses routinely curry favor from Democratic politicians, who ease unionization restrictions to boost union member rolls—and, by extension, monthly dues.

    But the scale is striking. The SEIU spent about $70 million on all federal political activity in 2012 and again in 2016. Even the Fight for $15 has cost less than $100 million, to the best of our knowledge.

    This is a dramatic shift in strategy for a union supposedly concerned about collective bargaining and helping service employees, which has led some union officials to question the campaign. David Rolf, a Washington-based SEIU vice president, has argued it is “hallucinatory” to believe that “the hundreds of millions of dollars the labor movement spent just on Wisconsin gubernatorial elections between 2010 and 2014 couldn’t have been better used to build new forms of worker power.” He argues that wasted political dollars will do nothing to improve workers’ livelihoods.

    There are union members who surely agree with Rolf. Henry has claimed that “64 percent of our public members identify as conservative.” Many SEIU members in the Midwest continue to support the Trump administration. It remains to be seen how they’ll respond to SEIU leadership spending big on Democrats.

    But the SEIU has now made its bed. The union better hope for major political wins, or face irrelevancy.

    Categories: SEIU
  4. Labor Racket Weekly: The Indictments Continue

    In union America, corruption is just another day at the office. Here are this week’s best of the worst:

    • In Michigan, Jerome Durden, former Financial Analyst at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), former Controller of the United Auto Workers (UAW)-Chrysler National Training Center (NTC), and former Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the Leave the Light On Foundation (LTLOF), pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, impeding, and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. He prepared and filed tax returns for the UAW-Chrysler NTC and the LTLOF between 2009 and 2015 that falsely concealed millions of dollars in prohibited payments directed to former UAW Vice President General Holiefield (now deceased), former FCA Vice President Alphons Iacobelli, and others. Durden also pled guilty to one count of failure to file an income tax return for 2013. His sentencing is scheduled for December 12th, 2017.
    • In Maine, Ryan Jones, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge S6, was indicted on one count of embezzling $280,865 in union funds.
    • In Maryland, Sophia Love, former President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2751, was indicted on one count of theft of at least $10,000 but less than $100,000.

    Circle back next week for more union shenanigans.

    Categories: AFSCMELabor Racket Weekly
  5. Celebrating National Employee Freedom Week

    Today marks the start of National Employee Freedom Week, an annual celebration of employee rights in the workplace and the enduring need to fight for them.

    Fortunately, many U.S. states have addressed the union stranglehold on the workplace with right-to-work laws, which prohibit mandatory union membership as a condition of employment. A week from now, Missouri’s right-to-work law goes into effect, making the Show-Me State the 28th state to enact such reforms. In these 28 states, employees are not compelled to give away a piece of their monthly paycheck to a union, retaining the right to choose the workplace most suited to their needs.

    Of course, union elites predictably and falsely call right-to-work an affront to collective bargaining. Jimmy Hoffa, General President of the scandal-ridden International Brotherhood of Teamsters argues that employee freedom somehow leads to “lower wages and fewer rights on the job.” Meanwhile, union-funded liberal think tanks such as the Economic Policy Institute churn out flawed reports suggesting that right-to-work “lower[s] wages for union and nonunion workers.” But accusations like these fail to account for differences in living costs across the country. If you take into account lower living costs in right-to-work states—many of which are in the South—there is little to no drop-off in real wages. According to a 2015 Heritage Foundation study, “private-sector workers in right-to-work states enjoy real wages equivalent to those in non-right-to-work states,” with “no negative impact on private-sector wages.”

    Right-to-work laws are best analyzed by asking union members themselves. And union members are staunch supporters. According to a newly released study from a survey research team affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, union members in right-to-work states report just as much workplace satisfaction as their counterparts in forced-union states, if not more. In both right-to-work and forced-union states, the overwhelming majority of union members expressed support for recertification elections, which allow employees to regularly vote on their union representation.

    They also support the Employee Rights Act (ERA), the most comprehensive update to American labor law since the 1940s. The ERA would require secret ballot union elections and periodic recertification votes, while preventing union officials from spending member dues on political advocacy without prior consent. The bill is presently co-sponsored by more than 80 members of Congress and its key provisions enjoy 80 percent approval among union household voters.

    Congress should celebrate this National Employee Freedom Week by passing the ERA and protecting employees nationwide.

    Categories: Employee Rights ActRight-to-WorkTeamsters
  6. Labor Racket Weekly: Fraud, Fountain Pens, and a Ferrari

    Every week, we bring you the most egregious and sometimes ridiculous tales of union corruption. This week is no exception, with numerous fraud counts and even a Ferrari involved:

    • In Indiana, Thomas Rodgers, former General Chairman of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) General Committee of Adjustment (GCA) 247, was charged in an information with a level 6 felony theft of $3,672.
    • In Iowa, Curtis Lang, former President of the United Dairy Workers of LeMars, was sentenced to one year of confinement, six months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $95,223 and a $100 special assessment. On May 8, 2017, Lang pled guilty to one count of embezzlement.
    • In Michigan, Alphons Iacobelli, former Vice President of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and two counts of violating the LMRA for paying and delivering over $1.2 million in prohibited payments and things of value. Who was on the receiving end? The late General Holiefield, former Vice President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Holiefield’s wife Monica Morgan, and other UAW officials. The prohibited payments and things of value, which occurred between 2009 and 2014, included designer clothing, jewelry, furniture, and paying off the $262,219 mortgage on Holiefield and Morgan’s residence.
      • Iacobelli was also charged with an additional count of conspiracy and four counts of failing to report on his 2012-2015 individual tax returns approximately $2.1 million in union funds that he diverted to pay for a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, private jet, pool, two limited edition Mont Blanc pens costing $75,000, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to his residence, among other purchases.
    • In Ohio, Guy Gokey, former Financial Secretary of Glass Molders and Plastics (GMP) Local 59, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $14,074.
    • In Oklahoma, William Bryles, former President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2406, was charged and pled no contest to four counts of felony embezzlement. He then signed a three-year deferred sentence order and was ordered to pay $11,174 in restitution and court costs.
    • In Pennsylvania, Michael Evans and William Uggiano, former President and former Treasurer, respectively, of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1699, were both charged in a one-count information for conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
    • In Rhode Island, Christopher Hayes, former Rhode Island Police Department Sergeant and former President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 8, was sentenced to six months of imprisonment followed by six months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, 300 hours of community service, and he was ordered to pay $71,523 in restitution. On May 1, 2017, Hayes pled guilty to one count of wire fraud. Hayes admitted to the court that between August 2009 and December 2014, he converted approximately $71,523 in union funds for his own personal use.

    Check back next week for more shady deals and scandalous splurging.

    Categories: Labor Racket WeeklyUAW
  7. Teamsters Harass Celebrity Host with “Sexist, Anti-Muslim Slurs”

    Don’t look now, but the Teamsters are (still) taking pages out of Jimmy Hoffa’s playbook.

    Our story takes us to Boston, where “Top Chef” filmed a segment back in 2014. Earlier this month, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi told a federal jury investigating a union extortion case that several Teamsters members harassed her on the way to the shoot. Furious that the show used nonunion drivers, Teamsters thugs—sorry, union members—allegedly surrounded Lakshmi’s vehicle yelling profanities and threatening to assault her. They even hurled Islamophobic and sexist insults at Lakshmi, which you can see here (warning: profane language):

    Not surprisingly, Lakshmi was “petrified” of the union mob, claiming it “felt like serious schoolyard bullying” and “drastically affected the whole production, not just that day.” The four union members involved—who are part of Teamsters Local 25—now face charges of conspiracy and attempted extortion, and up to 20 years in prison. All because “Top Chef” used nonunion drivers.

    The trial has also put an uncomfortable spotlight on Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, a longtime Laborers union official. At least three witness testified that a top Walsh aide tried to withhold permits for “Top Chef” unless the show hired union member. Mayor Walsh’s head of tourism, Kenneth Brissette, even forced two Boston restaurants to withdraw from working with the show by threatening to unleash union protesters at the restaurants. This led “Top Chef” to work with a third restaurant in nearby Milton, where Lakshmi and other employees thought they would be safe. If only.

    The message is clear: If you ship up to Boston, make sure you do it in a union car.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionTeamstersViolence
  8. Labor Racket Weekly: Cooked Books and Union Crooks

    This week’s union rackets will blow your mind.

    • In Alabama, Michael Lackey, former President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3901, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $69,193. On January 31, 2017, Lackey pled guilty to five counts of bank fraud and one count of embezzlement in the amount of $69,193.
    • In Alaska, Jeffrey Davies, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 183, was sentenced to one year in a federal penitentiary and three years of federal probation, and he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $92,766 and a $100 fine. On June 7, 2016, Davies pled guilty to one count of embezzling over $92,000 in union funds.
    • In Idaho, Ashley Cline, former office manager for Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 155, was sentenced to four years of federal probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30,776 and a $1,000 fine. On January 25, 2017, Cline pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud.
    • In Illinois, Lonzell Moore, former President of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 1730, pled guilty to one count of embezzling $18,857 in union funds.
    • In Michigan, Brenda Schaefer, former Treasurer of National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) Local 39, pled guilty to one count of willful failure to maintain union records.
    • In New Jersey, Paul Moe, a member of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1804-1 and general foreman for a Port Elizabeth terminal operator, was indicted on one count of wire fraud conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud for fraudulently submitting time sheets that resulted in paying him nearly $500,000 annually. The investigation disclosed that he either never showed up at the job site or was present for as little as eight hours per week.
    • In Pennsylvania, Charles Hill, former Financial Secretary of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP) Local 46, was indicted on one count of embezzling $7,000 in union funds.
    • In Texas, Clementine T. Ray, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2109, was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to pay $4,067 in restitution. On May 31, 2017, Ray pled guilty to false writings.

    As always, check back next week!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly