Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Labor Racket Weekly: November Nonsense Continues

    A few weeks ago, we filled you in on the worst union shenanigans of early November. Well, there are now more. According to the Labor Department, here are the latest criminal enforcement actions involving our labor movement:

    • On November 15th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Henry Clay Green, Sr., former Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees – Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (UNITE HERE) Local 26 (located in Medford, Mass.), was charged in an information with one count of embezzling $171,455 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On November 14th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Brenda Schaefer, former Treasurer of National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) Local 39 (located in Chesterfield, Mich.), was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $11,570 in restitution and a $25 special assessment. On July 10, 2017, Schaefer pled guilty to one count of willful failure to maintain union records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(a).
    • On November 14th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, Tamika Bullock, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 684 (located in Chesapeake, Va.), pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization for embezzling $24,600 from the union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On November 13th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Stephanie DeBoer, former office manager and bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 876 (located in Edmore, Mich.), pled guilty to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of approximately $307,563, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On November 9th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Roderick Bennett, former Chief of Staff for the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), located in Washington, D.C., was charged in a criminal information with one count of embezzling $141,335 from the union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).

    Check back soon for the worst of late November and early December!

    Categories: Labor Racket WeeklyUNITE HERE
  2. Sexual Harassment Allegations? Don’t Forget Big Labor

    From Hollywood to the halls of Congress, sexual harassment allegations have shaken the country. But alleged sexual misconduct isn’t exclusive to the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Don’t forget Big Labor!

    In October, we reported on the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) own history of harassment. Back then, Executive Vice President Scott Courtney, who had led the union’s job-killing Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign, resigned from his post after complaints surfaced about his relationships with female staffers. The union also had to fire the leader of its Fight for $15 campaign in Illinois, Caleb Jennings, as part of an investigation into misconduct and abusive behavior. Jennings allegedly grew violent toward his employees, and even reportedly shoved a female subordinate against a door frame. The SEIU placed Mark Raleigh, the Detroit campaign’s top official, on administrative leave for similar reasons.

    If only they were the last of the union’s problems. Since then, Fight for $15 organizing director Kendall Fells also resigned due to the ongoing investigation into SEIU harassment. He was joined by Pedro Malave, a California-based SEIU official who was dismissed from two management positions after the alleged victim, Daria Alladio, came forward with a series of complaints. Alladio described women like her as the “ideal prey” for union officials.

    Unfortunately, the SEIU isn’t the only union facing sexual misconduct allegations. According to a report from Bloomberg‘s Josh Eidelson:

    “The AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 unions that together represent 12.5 million workers, in May settled a grievance brought by its own employees’ union, which accused the group of creating a hostile work environment for employees working on the 2016 election in Pennsylvania. Supervisors there allegedly referred to female staffers as ‘bitches’ and other epithets, according to current and former staff. David Eckstein, a former AFL-CIO official who came out of retirement to help with the federation’s efforts in Pennsylvania, said he was ‘stunned’ by what he described as colleagues ‘deliberately trying to push the women backwards, and out of the state.’”

    The AFL-CIO’s chief budget officer, Terry Stapleton, recently resigned after being accused of sending lewd text messages to his secretary. Stapleton allegedly “suggested he could protect her job if she had a sexual relationship with him.” The situation is so grave that Politico recently ran the following headline: “Why Didn’t Unions Stop Sexual Harassment?”

    That’s all you need to know.

    Categories: AFL-CIOCrime & CorruptionSEIUViolence
  3. Labor Racket Weekly: November No-Goodery

    Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and Big Labor’s been busy—in the wrong ways. Here are the worst union shenanigans so far this month:

    • On November 7th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Patrick Remigio, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2859 (located in Phoenix, Ariz.), was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. Remigio was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $95,000 and a special assessment of $100. On October 19th, 2016, Remigio pled guilty to wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343.
    • On November 7th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division, Gordon Cairns, former President of United Steelworkers Local 1089 (located in Harrisburg, N.C.), was charged with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $63,999, one count of failure to maintain records, one count of making false statements, and one count of destruction of records, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), 439(a), 439(b), and 439(c), respectively.
    • On November 1st, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, Ronald Coldren, former Financial Secretary of Steelworkers Local 207 (located in Findlay, Ohio), was indicted for one count of embezzlement in the amount of $30,639.

    Check back soon for more union shenanigans. Union members, beware!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  4. IRS Should Crack Down on Coalition of Immokalee Workers

    The Center for Union Facts recently filed a complaint with the IRS about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker center based in south Florida that represents primarily migrant tomato pickers.

    CIW is known for launching harassment campaigns against restaurants and supermarkets, seeking to extract “bonuses” from the companies for those workers (even though these companies don’t employ the workers directly). These brand attacks can range from the annoying (street protests) to the preposterous (accusing companies of being complicit in “sexual violence” in their supply chain if they don’t cough up money).

    There are serious questions about accountability—the system was the subject of class-action litigation after it emerged that workers hadn’t been paid for a number of years—but our complaint takes aim at CIW on different grounds: For forming as a federal tax-exempt charity when it’s really tantamount to a shakedown operation.

    The IRS classifies tax-exempt organizations as being “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.” But CIW is not a food bank or an animal shelter. It’s not an educational organization (as we are). CIW is essentially a group operating for the private financial benefit of a small class of people (certain agricultural workers).

    CIW is much closer to being a labor organization than it is a public charity. However, labor organizations have to abide by the regulations of the National Labor Relations Act, which among other things prohibits boycotts of secondary employers—a common play in CIW’s game plan.

    Worker centers are not a new charade and have been an increasingly popular way for Big Labor to try to organize. But it’s high time the feds stop the abuse of the federal code and stop allowing worker centers to operate as tax-exempt “charities” instead of labor organizations.

    Categories: Anti-Corporate CampaignsCenter for Union FactsWorkers Center
  5. UAW Scandal (Somehow) Gets Worse

    The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is in deep trouble. News recently broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has expanded its corruption investigation to include a member of General Motors’ board and the UAW’s training centers funded by all three Detroit automakers. According to the Detroit News:

    Investigators are interested in Joe Ashton, a retired UAW vice president appointed to GM’s board in 2014, and Cindy Estrada, his successor in charge of the union’s GM department, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Ashton is the highest-ranking official whose name has surfaced in connection with a criminal investigation into whether money and illegal benefits corrupted the bargaining process.

    The investigation focuses on whether training funds were misappropriated. Earlier this year, former Fiat Chrysler labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli and Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield, were indicted and accused of violating the Labor Management Relations Act. They allegedly participated in a $4.5 million scheme that siphoned corporate training funds earmarked for blue-collar workers and spent the money on various luxuries. This includes a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, one private jet, two limited edition Mont Blanc pens costing $75,000, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements to private residences, among other expenses.

    As the Detroit Free Press described it,  “UAW officials ran a sophisticated money laundering scheme.” Now it’s getting worse: The FBI has issued numerous subpoenas for information about training centers financed by Ford and General Motors that are operated jointly with the UAW.

    Whatever the final outcome, union members deserve a lengthy explanation.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAWUnion Spending
  6. Labor Racket Weekly: October’s Worst of the Worst

    The month of October brought a bevy of union misconduct. Here’s the Labor Department’s worst of the worst:

    • On October 10th, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Thomas M. Miller, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 815 (located in Joliet, Ill.), was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. Miller was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $21,070, a fine of $2,000, and a special assessment of $100. On May 19th, 2017, Miller pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $10,686, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On October 9th, 2017, in the Ramsey County (Minnesota, Minm.) District Court, Latasha Wilson, former Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1969 (located in Minneapolis), was charged with one count of theft by swindle of more than $35,000, in violation of Minnesota State Statute 609.52.2(a)(4).  The complaint alleges that Wilson stole union funds in the amount of $58,150 between January 2013 and December 2015.
    • On October 6th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Matt Smith, former Secretary-Treasurer of Transport Workers Local 576 (located in Hurst, Tex.), pled guilty to the one count of embezzling union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On October 4th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Gregory Normand, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 324-TD (located in Marysville, Wash.), was indicted for one count of embezzling over $443,000 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).  Additionally, Normand was indicted for one count of making false statements to a government agency in a filed report, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 439(b), and one count of making false statements to a government agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.
    • On October 3rd, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Glenn Robert Smith, former comptroller for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC), located in Warren, Mich., pled guilty to one count of embezzling $499,087 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  7. SEIU Harassment Scandal Forces Staff Shakeup

    Uh-oh, SEIU. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has a sex-related problem of its own. Executive Vice President Scott Courtney, who had led the union’s job-killing Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign, recently resigned from his post after complaints surfaced about his relationships with female staffers. BuzzFeed’s Cora Lewis reports:

    More than a dozen current and former staffers interviewed by BuzzFeed News said complaints about top-level staff on the Fight for 15 campaign, including Executive Vice President Scott Courtney, were an open secret, and that complaints about abusive and aggressive behavior by some organizers who reported to Courtney led to no action.

    Not ideal. Earlier this month, Courtney married a subordinate of his, whom he courted on the job. Courtney’s resignation also raises questions about the SEIU’s reported inaction when faced with sexual harassment allegations, not to mention retaliatory tendencies.

    And he’s not alone. The union had to fire the leader of its Fight for $15 campaign in Illinois, Caleb Jennings, as part of an investigation into misconduct and abusive behavior. Jennings allegedly grew violent toward his employees, and even reportedly shoved a female subordinate against a door frame. The SEIU also placed Mark Raleigh, the Detroit campaign’s top official, on administrative leave for similar reasons.

    This is ironic given, in the union’s words, the SEIU’s ongoing “[fight] for justice for working families, immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people of all faiths and backgrounds in their work places.” Even more ironically, the Fight for $15 has repeatedly vowed to reduce “rampant sexual harassment in fast food restaurants.” It probably makes more sense for SEIU officials to get their own house in order before casting broad aspersions.

    Unfortunately, sexual misconduct may transcend the service union. As other labor groups face similar allegations, there is talk of cover-up and rampant retaliation. According to the Payday Report, “Several union officials under investigation by other labor reporters have threatened to sue if reporters print allegations.” In labor reporter Mike Elk’s words: “I have had to personally chaperone younger female labor reporters on drinks with sources because of how intimidating some men in the labor movement can be.”

    If labor reporters feel the heat, just imagine how female union members must feel.

    Categories: SEIUViolence
  8. Delaware County Hops on the Right-to-Work Train

    Right-to-work legislation, which prohibits union membership as a condition of employment, is taking the country by storm. Earlier this year, Missouri became the 28th state to pass a right-to-work law. And not only are states embracing workplace freedom, but counties are too. In Delaware’s Sussex County, for example, local officials have put right-to-work on the agenda to prevent forced unionism.

    The Daily Signal‘s Kevin Mooney recently covered the right-to-work push in Delaware. You can read it here.

    Categories: Right-to-Work