Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Labor Racket Weekly: Cross-Country Corruption Continues

    Corruption. Embezzlement. Allegedly unauthorized cash withdrawals. Here are this week’s best labor rackets:

    • In Arkansas, Jeni May Hughes, former office manager for Plumbers Local 155, pled guilty to embezzling $428,874 in union funds.
    • In Iowa, Curtis Lang, former President of the United Dairy Workers of LeMars, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement. On March 22, 2017, Lang was indicted for one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $45,040.
    • In New York, Victor Davila, former President of the Hunts Point Police Benevolent Association, was charged with one count of embezzlement of union funds. Why? He was spending association funds on personal expenditures and making approximately $35,000 in cash withdrawals that were not authorized by the union.

    Circle back next week for more union shenanigans.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  2. SEIU Members Sue Mary Kay Henry Over Nevada Power Grab

    shutterstock_299196185Union members to Mary Kay Henry: You crossed a line. A group of Nevada union members recently sued Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and other SEIU officials for seizing control of their local union.

    Last month, Henry removed Cherie Mancini, board member of the Nevada-based SEIU 1107, after Mancini cancelled a contract ratification she deemed harmful to Local 1107’s members. Mancini publicly accused the union’s bargaining team of violating its fiduciary duty to membership. Within days, Henry stripped Mancini of her board membership and suspended her union membership; removed Sharon Kisling, SEIU Nevada’s former executive vice president from office; and took control of Local 1107’s finances, contract negotiations, and day-to-day operations. The SEIU has allegedly taken out credit cards on the local union’s account.

    Now, Mancini and nine union members are speaking out against Henry’s forced trusteeship, calling it a “manufactured emergency” situation. The plaintiff is Raymond Garcia, a dissatisfied Local 1107 member. Peter Nguyen, Local 1107’s former director of organizing and representation, claimed the following: “I’m certain that there’s irreparable harm that’s taken place to the members because the bargaining process has clearly been disrupted.”

    The SEIU’s bickering now moves to a federal court, which will decide whether to reverse the trusteeship. Power struggles: Just another perk of union membership.

    Categories: SEIU
  3. Labor Racket Weekly: $71,523 in Dues for “Personal Use”

    shutterstock_547250767Union dues are being used for union leaders’ personal benefits, not members’ benefits. Here are this week’s best rackets:

    1. In Illinois, Thomas M. Miller, former Secretary-Treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 815, was charged with embezzling approximately $10,686 in union funds.
    2. In Rhode Island, Christopher Hayes, former Rhode Island Police Department Sergeant and former President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 8, pled guilty to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Hayes admitted to the court that, between August 2009 and December 2014, he used an FOP debit card to pay for his own personal expenses; wrote checks payable to himself from the FOP bank account; withdrew cash from the FOP bank account for personal use; and made online payments to his personal credit card from the FOP bank account, converting approximately $71,523 in union funds for his own personal use.

    Check in next week for more union fails.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  4. Union President Pay Watch, 2017

    The AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of labor unions, recently released its annual Executive Paywatch report. It’s a routine attempt to, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka puts it, expose the “greed of corporate CEOs.”

    The report alleges that the average S&P 500 CEO earned $13.1 million in total compensation in 2016, while the typical U.S. rank-and-file worker made only $37,632. This apparently comes out to “a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 347 to one.” In other words, union officials claim that CEOs make 347 times more money than the average worker.

    But, as we pointed out last year, the math behind the AFL-CIO’s eye-catching figure is dubious to say the least. For example, the union federation cherry-picks a select group of CEOs heading the largest companies in the S&P 500, inflating the numbers. The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry (among others) can explain these statistical gymnastics in more detail.

    Union cherry-picking changes the subject—from Big Labor’s own pay gaps. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. “chief executive,” which encompasses small business owners and S&P 100 CEOs, made $194,350 in gross salary last year. This is nowhere near $13.1 million in total compensation and a 347:1 CEO-to-worker pay gap. So we examined union disclosure forms to figure out how many union presidents earned more than the average CEO in 2016. The results are striking: 153 union presidents made more than the typical CEO ($194,350) in gross salary. You can see the top-10 salary earners here:

    2017_UnionSalaryAnd, like CEOs, union elites can expect much more than a salary. In 2016, 192 union presidents earned more than $194,350 in total compensation, which accounts for travel expenses and other business disbursements. Timothy Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, earned more than $775,000 last year. International Brotherhood of Boilermakers President Newton Jones came close at $756,973, while Laborers’ International Union President Terence O’Sullivan made nearly $718,000 in total compensation. Even AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took home $294,537 in 2016—far more than the typical CEO.

    Last year, roughly 50 union presidents earned over $300,000 in total compensation. At least 22 of them made $400,000 or more. Keep in mind that an annual household income of $430,000 lands you firmly in the 1 percent—dreaded company in union America. You can see the highest earners (in terms of total compensation) here:

    2017_UnionSalary2

    Union elites would be better off serving their members than throwing stones from glass houses.

    Categories: AFL-CIOAFTAnti-Corporate CampaignsDOLTeachers UnionsUFCWUnion Spending
  5. Labor Racket Weekly: Embezzling Galore!

    shutterstock_547250767Another week and another set of union bosses allegedly or actually stealing members’ money. This week’s list of offenders goes from coast to coast. Here are the best rackets:

    • In Pennsylvania, Raymond C. Ventrone, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154, was charged with one count of embezzling approximately $1,499,000 in union funds and five counts of income tax evasion.
    • In Arkansas, Jeni May Hughes, former office manager for Plumbers Local 155, was charged with one count of embezzling union funds.
    • In Washington, Pascale McAtee, former President of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 161-Transportation Division (TD), pled guilty to one count of embezzling over $82,000 in union funds.
    Touch base next week for more stories of union nonsense.
    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  6. Yale Students Go On Hunger Strike, Eat When Hungry

    shutterstock_192106856Some Yale University graduate students want to join a union. And they’re willing to starve for it.

    Well, not really. Eight of the university’s graduate students are now in their second week of a “symbolic” hunger strike, which means that protesters fast on water alone until they “can no longer go on.” At that point, the protesters leave their posts and grab a bite to eat. Yes, really. Even though university administration is “strongly [urging] that students not put their health at risk or encourage others to do so,” the protesters are adamant that they’re hunger strike will “inspire joy,” if not actual hunger.

    This has prompted widespread trolling. The Yale College Republicans organized a barbecue nearby in the early days of the “hunger strike,” while an anonymous Yale alumnus delivered the “fasting” students $200 worth of pizza.

    The union drive is being carried out by UNITE HERE, which is employing a “micro-union” approach to organize graduate students department-by-department instead of university-wide. As we’ve explained before, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) legalized micro-unions to Balkanize workplaces so that a small group of unhappy workers can form their own union even if the larger group of workers has no interest in joining the union. (The fact that graduate students are even considered union-eligible employees stems from a 2016 NLRB ruling allowing them to unionize.) As it stands now, only 228 of Yale’s 2,600 students have cast eligible votes regarding unionization, illustrating UNITE HERE’s piecemeal approach.

    Yale University: The school that gave us George H.W. Bush, Meryl Streep, and a bunch of students who eat pizza on hunger strikes.

    Categories: HumorUNITE HERE
  7. Teamsters Boss Asks for Member Money to Fight Corruption Charges

    facepalmYou read that right. Rome Aloise, a Teamsters vice president who earned more than $383,000 in total compensation last year, is defending himself from a corruption probe launched by the union itself. And, yes, he’s seeking donations from blue-collar employees to cover his legal bills. The Washington Free Beacon‘s Bill McMorris has more:

    “Rome Aloise, an international vice president and key West Coast ally of embattled union President James Hoffa Jr., is being investigated by the union’s three-member Independent Review Board on charges of corruption that include taking gifts from employers and rigging union votes. Although the case is a civil, rather than legal or criminal matter, Aloise has turned to crowdfunding to pay for the legal advice he is receiving.”

    Why is he in hot water? A Playboy Super Bowl Party. The Independent Review Board found that Aloise acted against his members’ interests by “giving favorable contracts to companies that offered him perks.” He used his position to enter the Teamsters into “collusive, sham collective bargaining agreements” dating back to 2004. During that time, Aloise received six admissions to a Playboy Super Bowl Party for another Teamster boss and his family and friends. He also secured a job for his cousin, even after the employer “determined he was not performing as required.”

    To take on the corruption charges, Aloise has launched DefendRome.com “to pay for the costs of defense related to any charges” brought against him. As if union members have nothing else to worry about.

    (If you have more time, check out McMorris’ reporting on unionized government employees, at least 1,000 of whom exclusively work for labor unions instead of performing duties at their taxpayer-funded government jobs. These activities cost American taxpayers more than $162 million in 2014.)

    There’s never a dull moment in union America.

    Categories: Union Spending
  8. Labor Racket Weekly: More Embezzlement Ensues

    shutterstock_547250767As union funds disappear, more union bosses are being charged with embezzlement. Here are this week’s craziest rackets:

    • In Connecticut, Andrew Thibodeau, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local Lodge 1433, was charged in a one-count information for embezzling union funds exceeding $70,000. Thibodeau pled guilty to the charge.
    • In Ohio, David Sager, former President of United Steelworkers Local 5000, was indicted on three counts of filing false income tax returns. In September, Sager was previously charged with nine counts of embezzlement, 18 counts of mail fraud, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement.
    • In Indiana, Fenna Saylors, former Treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 378, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement. Saylors embezzled approximately $16,647.

    Come back next week for more stories of union corruption.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly