Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Labor Racket Weekly: A Few December Doozies

    It’s a new year. With it comes a new opportunity to review the Labor Department’s rundown of Big Labor’s recent follies. Here’s the worst of the worst from December:

    • On December 15th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Marianne Rodacy, former Financial-Recording Secretary of United Steelworkers Local 10-53-G (located in Charleroi, Pa.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling $13,109 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On December 13th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, William Uggiano, former Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1699 (located in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), was sentenced to two years of probation with 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,350 and a $100 special assessment. On September 6th, 2017, Uggiano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349.
    • On December 12th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Michael Evans, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1699 (located in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), was sentenced to two years of probation with 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $65,775 and a $100 special assessment. On September 6th, 2017, Evans pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349.
    • On December 5th, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Anthony Edmunds, former President of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2419 (located in Danville, Ill.), was indicted on one count of embezzling $19,482 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).
    • On December 1st, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Henry Clay Green, Sr., former Financial Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 26 (located in Medford, Mass.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization for embezzling $171,455 from the union, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c).

    Touch base soon for more doozies!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  2. The Left Eats its Own—Over Secret Ballots

    There’s trouble brewing at Vox Media, the parent company of the left-wing news website Vox.com.

    In November, an estimated 350 to 400 Vox editorial and video production workers signed cards nominating the Writers Guild of America, East, as their collective bargaining agent. But, according to union organizers, Vox is urging employees to hold a government-supervised secret ballot election before it formally recognizes the Writers Guild. The company rightly claims that a private vote is the more accurate gauge of employee sentiment.

    This sparked outrage from Vox Union, which is leading the organizing effort. The group accused Vox Media of “union busting by pretending they don’t understand why an [National Labor Relations Board] election is unacceptable.” That’s right: A secret ballot election is now considered “union busting” and “unacceptable.”

    There are several layers to this story. First, Vox’s news coverage is decidedly pro-union, so management’s reported skepticism of the Vox Union reeks of irony and hypocrisy. In 2015, Vox columnist Matthew Yglesias lamented “American companies generally so averse to unionization,” only to see his current employer follow suit two years later. Apparently, collective bargaining makes sense until it affects your own bottom line.

    Second, Vox’s labor dispute splits the liberal newsroom into two camps. Editor-in-chief Ezra Klein has consistently opposed the private vote, even suggesting it is “morally abhorrent.” However, there are presumably Vox employees who prefer a secret ballot election to the publicly staged card check process, which explains why the union campaign is being help up. Even pro-union workers can see the wisdom in a private vote, which is standard practice in any other electoral setting. Roughly 80 percent of Americans—including those in union households—support secret ballot union votes.

    Most importantly, the Vox controversy underscores the need for the Employee Rights Act (ERA). According to the most recent NLRB data, nearly 40 percent of union recognitions bypass the secret ballot, leaving employees vulnerable to union intimidation. The ERA would protect them by guaranteeing a private vote during all organizing drives.

    Who, other than Ezra Klein, can argue with that?

    Categories: Employee Rights ActEnding Secret Ballots
  3. Union Lawyer’s Skeletons EXPOSED

    We wrote recently about the hypocrisy of Democrats’ attacks on President Trump’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominees.

    It’s not just politicians leading the charge. David Rosenfeld, a partner at the pro-union law firm Weinberg, Roger, & Rosenfeld, has allied himself with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in these attacks. But as it turns out, Rosenfeld isn’t so squeaky-clean himself.

    According to recently obtained NLRB documents from the late 1990s, the union lawyer was publicly “admonished” by the Board for “continually referring to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation as the ‘Right to Freeload Committee,’ ‘The National Right to Shirk Legal Defense Foundation,’ or variations thereon.” He even referred to National Right to Work attorneys as “Shirkers.” According to the NLRB’s Executive Secretary at the time, the Board “found such offensive epithets inappropriate and a manifest disrespect for the Board’s processes.” Rosenfeld was warned that, if the behavior continued, he could face “possible prosecution” by the Justice Department.

    It takes a special kind of labor lawyer to be condemned by a bipartisan NLRB. You can see the documents here.

    In the meantime, Rosenfeld should stop lobbing stones from glass houses.

    Categories: NLRB
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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