Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Labor Racket Weekly: Theft, Embezzlement, Oh My!

    Recent weeks have brought to light all sorts of union scandals, including theft, embezzlement, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and others. Thousands upon thousands of dollars in member dues were involved. The Labor Department has it all for you:

    • On June 5th, 2018, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, Sophia Love, former President of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2751 (located in Baltimore, Md.), pleaded guilty to one count of theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, in violation of Maryland Criminal Law Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii), for stealing $15,548 from the union.
    • On June 1st, 2018, in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland, Keith Franzese, former President of Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) Local 275 (located in Greenbelt, Md.), entered an Alford plea to one count of theft of more than $10,000 but less than $100,000, in violation of Maryland Criminal Law Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii), for stealing $67,624 from the union. An Alford Plea is a guilty plea of a defendant who proclaims he is innocent of the crime, and admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • On May 31st, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Salvatore Armao and Karen Auer, respectively the managing partner and the principal of an accounting firm, were charged by complaint with Aiding and Abetting an Embezzlement of Union Funds (18 U.S.C. 2 and 29 U.S.C. 501c), False Statements in Employee Benefit Plan Records and Reports (18 U.S.C. 1027), and Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371). Auer was also charged with making a False Statement (18 U.S.C. 1001).
    • On May 29th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Charles Webster, former President of Steelworkers (formerly Glass, Molders, and Plastics) Local 284 (located in Longview, Tex.), was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of failing to maintain records, which were required to be kept in support of the union’s annual financial report, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c).
    • On May 29th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Christopher Mulhall, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, for taking part in an embezzlement of $57,310 from the union.

    If the past is prologue, Summer 2018 will be no different in union America. Union members, beware!

    Categories: AFSCMELabor Racket Weekly
  2. Union President Pay Watch, 2018

    The AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of labor unions, recently released its annual Executive Paywatch report. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler describes the report as “further proof of America’s income inequality crisis,” for which she blames CEOs who are “paying themselves more and more.”

    The report found that the “average CEO of an S&P 500 Index company” earned $13.94 million in total compensation last year, while the “average production and non-supervisory worker” made just over $38,000—a purported 361:1 CEO-worker pay gap.

    There are just a few problems. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry explains in detail, the union report is “based on a series of flawed statistical assumptions.” For example, the AFL-CIO routinely uses the mean CEO compensation figure, which is always higher than the more sensible median figure. Moreover, the report compares total CEO compensation—which includes cash bonuses, stock awards, and other benefits—for senior executives at America’s largest corporations to cash-only pay for part-time workers at companies of all sizes. This includes small businesses, such as neighborhood grocery stores and mom-and-pop diners. It’s not exactly groundbreaking that the CEOs of Apple and Time Warner—companies with thousands of employees—make more money than a part-time restaurant worker.

    The AFL-CIO’s cherry-picking changes the subject—from Big Labor’s own income inequality crisis. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average U.S. “chief executive,” which includes small business owners, earned $196,050 in gross salary last year—nowhere near the AFL-CIO’s $13.94 million figure. A review of union financial disclosures filed with the Labor Department found that dozens of union presidents make more than the average CEO. In fact, 146 union presidents earn a higher gross salary than the average CEO ($196,050). Three of them make more than $500,000 in base salary alone. You can see the top-10 salary earners here:

    Of course, union officials can also expect much more than a salary, including travel expenses and other business disbursements. In 2017, 193 union presidents earned more than $196,050 in total compensation. Timothy Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, made nearly $793,000. He was joined by five other union presidents who collected well over $500,000. Even AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, whose labor group put out the Executive Paywatch report, earned more than $315,000 in 2017—far more than a typical CEO.

    You can see the top-10 compensation earners here:

    Memo to union bosses: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

     

    Categories: AFL-CIOUFCWUnion Spending
  3. Labor Racket Weekly: May Madness

    May has been a month filled with union shenanigans. From embezzlement to wire fraud, the Labor Department continues to have its hands full keeping tabs on union officials:

    • On May 17th, 2018, in the United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, Scott Alexander, former president for Teamsters Local 50 (located in Belleville, Ill.), pled guilty to one count of embezzlement and one count of wire fraud, in violations of 29 U.S.C. 501(c) and 18 USC 1343.
    • On May 17th, 2018, in the United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, Nancy Alexander, former office administrator for Teamsters Local 50 (located in Belleville, Ill.), pled guilty to one count of embezzlement and one count of wire fraud, in violations of 29 U.S.C. 501(c) and 18 USC 1343.
    • On May 14th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Maria Nunez, former office secretary of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local Lodge 1484 (located in Wilmington, Calif.), was sentenced to probation for a term of 2 years, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,868.50 and assessed a $25 penalty.  On January 4th, 2018, Nunez pled guilty to one count of false statement in records required to be maintained by a labor union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(c).
    • On May 11th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Richard D’Antuono, former Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons (OPCM) Local 40 (located in Cranston, R.I.), was sentenced to three years imprisonment followed by three years supervised release for one count of embezzling union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), one count of embezzling from an employee benefit fund, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 664, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028A.  D’Antuono was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $319,795 and a special assessment of $300.
    • On May 11th, 2018, in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Christopher Mulhall, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 for taking part in an embezzlement of $57,310.03 from the union.

    Check back next week for more tall tales of union corruption!

    Categories: Labor Racket WeeklyTeamsters
  4. Elizabeth Warren Conveniently Ignores Her Own NLRB Standard

    As we’ve written before, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is determined to undermine President Trump’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    For example, Sen. Warren has pressured NLRB nominee William Emmanuel, a former labor lawyer for Littler Mendelson, to recuse himself from any case involving class action lawsuits. Her claim is that Emmanuel’s involvement raises conflict of interest concerns, given his experience as a management-side attorney. She has even demanded that Emmanuel disclose all of his former clients, especially those “opposed to collective bargaining”—music to the ears of Warren’s union donors.

    How soon she forgets her own standard.

    In 2014, Sen. Warren applauded President Obama’s nomination of Allison Burroughs to the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, claiming “she will be an excellent judge.” In Warren’s words: “Her years of distinguished public service as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in both Boston and Philadelphia, including several years in the Economic Crimes Unit in Boston, along with her time in private practice, allow Allison to bring a wealth of legal experience to the federal bench.”

    Burroughs’ “time in private practice” is relevant here, given that she’s currently hearing a case regarding off-label drug promotions. According to a 2014 questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Burroughs previously represented a pharmaceutical company in a similar case. She admitted: “I, both alone and with other attorneys, have represented a large pharmaceutical company and a number of individuals, all in connection with various government investigations focusing on the ‘off-label promotion’ of drugs that have been approved by the FDA for other uses.”

    Using the Warren standard, Burroughs should have recused herself in the drug promotion case. Yet neither Sen. Warren nor any other Democrat called for her recusal, confirming our suspicion that their NLRB obstructionism is purely political. As a Wall Street Journal editorial recently put it, “Why should Mr. Emanuel be held to a higher standard than Judge Burroughs?”

    Sen. Warren will have a tough time answering that one.

    Categories: NLRB
  5. Big Labor Sends $1.3 Billion to the Left

    New research from the Center for Union Facts shows that, from 2010 to 2017, labor unions sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues to liberal advocacy groups—without prior member approval. The recipients include the Democratic Governors Association, Clinton Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and a host of other left-wing groups.

    Despite union leadership’s political preferences, roughly 40 percent of union household members vote Republican in any given election cycle. But their voices are routinely silenced in the workplace. Under federal labor law, union officials can spend dues money on political advocacy without first obtaining opt-in permission from their members.

    The Employee Rights Act (ERA), which is now co-sponsored by more than 180 senators and House members, would protect employees’ paychecks by requiring union leadership to obtain prior approval before spending member dues on political advocacy. Roughly 80 percent of Americans—including those in union households—support paycheck protection and other ERA reforms.

    You can see the new research here:

    Categories: Employee Rights ActPolitical MoneyUnion Spending
  6. New Video Slams UAW Executives

    The Center for Union Facts just released a new video criticizing the United Auto Workers (UAW) for the alleged misuse of training center funds by several of its executives. Titled “Get Smart on UAW Training Center Scam,” the video highlights the creation of a “slush fund…at members’ expense.” UAW President Dennis Williams has tried to downplay the scandal despite the widening federal investigation into UAW corruption.

    You can see the video here:

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW
  7. Labor Racket Weekly: Spring Sadness (Cont’d)

    Spring has been a season of illegal activity and bad optics for organized labor. The Labor Department has compiled even more union transgressions from April:

    • On April 25th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Steven Minella, former President/Business Agent of International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 (located in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $38,000 to Local 324 as well as a $100 special assessment. On September 2nd, 2015, Minella pled guilty to one count of misprision of a felony (18 U.S.C. 4) for failing to report to appropriate authorities the commission of extortion by another Local 324 official (18 U.S.C. 1951).
    • On April 24th, 2018, in the United States District Court District of Kansas, Robert Clearwater, former President for the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local 14 (located in Topeka, Kans.), pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $11,681 within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 661 as well as six counts of making false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
    • On April 20th, 2018, in the United States District Court District of Southern Illinois, Wendy Buch, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer for Transportation Communication Union (TCU) Lodge T-574 (located in Shiloh, Ill.), was sentenced to five (5) years probation and was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $11,957.34 and pay a $150 special assessment. On December 14th, 2017 Buch pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), and two counts of filing false reports, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(b).
    • On April 17th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the state of Alaska, Ann Reddig, former Secretary-Treasurer of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 918 (located in Anchorage, Alaska), was sentenced to serve fourteen (14) months in a federal penitentiary and three (3) years of supervised release, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $139,960, and assessed a $100 penalty. Reddig had previously pled guilty to one count of embezzling over $193,000 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On April 12th, 2018, in the United States District Court District of Montana, Alicia Rooney, former office secretary for Plumbers Local 459 (located in Missoula, IL), was sentenced to 3 months confinement, 3 years probation, restitution in the amount of $163,554.95, and a $100 special assessment. On November 28th, 2017 Rooney pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c) and one count of embezzlement from an employee benefit plan in violation of 18 U.S.C. 664.

    Check back next week for more union no-goodery!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  8. A “Dirty” Double Standard from National COSH

    One of organized labor’s first lines of attack in an unionization drive is workplace safety. On that front, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and its affiliates are reliable surrogates. The latest exhibit: The release this week of the “Dirty Dozen”—a report highlighting twelve employers that National COSH claims “put workers and communities at risk with unsafe practices.” A closer examination suggests the only thing “dirty” about this report is its credibility.

    National COSH bases its annual list on user-submitted nominations; there’s no independent panel of experts who are making a judgement on which companies qualify as “dirty.” Given that the organization is funded by unions, has labor groups on its board, and employs former union staffers, it shouldn’t be surprising the targets of National COSH are also organized labor’s targets.

    Last year’s list, for instance, listed automaker Nissan and auto supplier Fuyao Glass as among the “Dirty Dozen.” Not coincidentally, both companies were being targeted by the UAW as part of an organizing drive. (Employees in both plants voted against UAW representation.)

    The double-standard here is particularly egregious. Nissan’s auto manufacturing plants had zero OSHA violations in 2017; the UAW-represented Big Three had a combined eight serious safety violations in 2017. For one violation against Fiat-Chrysler (which the company is contesting), OSHA’s report admonished that the “employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm…

    Yet this union-repped company didn’t make the top 12 for National COSH’s report.

    This year’s deceitful dozen from National COSH includes other union targets and features accusations of workplace harassment. Curiously, the list omits the Ford auto manufacturing plant in Chicago, which was the subject of a massive New York Times expose in late 2017 that detailed endemic workplace sexual harassment that was allegedly aided and abetted by union reps in the plant. (One of the plant’s employees tells her story in the video below.)

    There’s no doubt some bad employers in the country who deserve to be called out. But reporters and policymakers looking for an unbiased or accurate guide won’t find it on the “Dirty Dozen” list from National COSH.

    Categories: UAW