Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Investigation of Boilermakers Reveals “Lavish Spending Practices and a Lack of Accountability”

    30 pieces of silverThere’s wasteful spending and then there’s the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. According to a recent Kansas City Star investigation, the 58,000-member Boilermakers union has earned quite a reputation for “fine dining, stays in posh hotels, and expensive hunting retreats,” while union officials and their relatives take home hefty six-figure salaries.

    In 2016, President Newton Jones’ total compensation climbed to a whopping $756,973—roughly $460,000 more than Richard Trumka’s take-home pay last year. (The key distinction being that Jones’ union totals 58,000 members, while Trumka oversees 12.5 million employees.) The Boilermakers boss took home more than Trumka and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, combined! But, as the Star‘s Judy Thomas reports, that’s only the tip of the iceberg:

    • The salaries of the union’s seven top officers now add up to $2.5 million, with total disbursements to those officers exceeding $3.5 million. Of the 107 other employees, 46 earn six-figure salaries, with 16 of them receiving total disbursements of more than $200,000—including one of $365,546.
    • Family members of executives are still earning healthy salaries working for the union or its affiliates, and Jones’ wife is now on the payroll along with his brother and son.
    • The union headquarters continues to spend sizable sums on classy hotels, fine cuisine and entertainment, such as season tickets to professional sporting events.
    • Federal authorities, including the U.S. Department of Labor, have investigated the $28 million Boilermaker Vacation Plan and one of its local lodges.

    And don’t forget the luxury gatherings:

    • Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa, where the union spent $51,560 for an international executive council meeting and $320,511 for a construction division conference.
    • The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where the union spent $343,879 on industrial sector operations conference expenses. An added bonus for those attending: Pole Position Raceway, a Las Vegas go-kart track where the union spent $5,250.
    • The InterContinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza, where the union spent $16,356 on a holiday party.

    Yet the Boilermakers have retained their lavish lifestyle despite a steady drop in members. The union’s membership fell from 57,203 employees in 2012 to just over 53,000 workers four years later.

    It’s not the first time that the Boilermakers have come under fire. The Star similarly investigated the union in 2012, which led the Boilermakers to briefly change its spending practices. Alas, it appears that reform was short-lived.

    Categories: AFL-CIOSEIUUnion Spending
  6. Labor Racket Weekly: Thousands Of Dollars In Restitution Payments

    shutterstock_547250767When union dues are collected, the money can end up deep in union bosses’ pockets. This week, we have more examples of labor rackets from across the country:

    • In Virginia, William Dixon, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 2014, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to undergo counseling and drug treatment. Dixon was also ordered to pay the remaining restitution of $3,408 after previously paying $930. In December, Dixon pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union for embezzling $4,338 from his own union members.
    • In Minnesota, Scot McNamara was sentenced to four months of house arrest and two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $8,871 in restitution, a $3,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and $4,000 in reimbursement to the U.S. Treasury Department for the cost of his legal bills. In December, McNamara pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union.
    • In Illinois, Michael Schofield, former Secretary-Treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way (BMW) Local 1046, was sentenced to eight months of incarceration, and one year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $30,641 in restitution and a $25 fine. In January, Schofield pled guilty to one count of making a false entry which helped conceal an embezzlement of union funds totaling $31,850 during 2012 and 2013. In the plea, Schofield admitted to making unauthorized loans of union funds to himself in excess of $2,000. For the purpose of computing his sentence, Schofield admitted to defrauding his employer of $30,641.
    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  7. Wall Street Journal Highlights SEIU’s Fight for $15 Boondoggle

    graphIn today’s Wall Street Journal, CUF Executive Director Richard Berman explained how the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Fight for $15 has failed to recruit new union members. Citing the SEIU’s recently released 2016 financial filings, Mr. Berman finds that the union has spent at least $90 million on the campaign since its launch in 2012. However, in his words:

    The SEIU might be losing hope: A Center for Union Facts analysis found that the union paid workers organizing committees $14.7 million in 2016, down from $16.4 million the year before.

    With membership declining, the SEIU’s cutback was inevitable. Since 2011 the union has shed nearly 21,000 dues-paying members, despite spending millions of dollars trying to unionize restaurant workers. The restaurant industry—a major unionization target for decades—boasts a union-membership rate of only 1.7 percent.

    The union’s failure to convert the Fight for $15 into new members presents an existential threat to its business model. Andy Stern, the former SEIU president, argues that the union cannot continue paying for its social-justice work with revenue it makes from bargaining contracts “because collective bargaining is shrinking.” Harold Meyerson, executive editor of the American Prospect, admits that the goal of unionizing fast-food workers is “as elusive today” as it was when the Fight for $15 began.

    The full piece, titled “Honey, I Shrunk the Union,” can be read here.

    Categories: SEIU
  8. Labor Racket Weekly: $275,000 in Allegedly Stolen Money—and Kickbacks, Too!

    shutterstock_547250767Another day, another series of union fails. Here are this week’s craziest union rackets:

    • In New York, Johnnie Miranti, former Secretary-Treasurer of Toy and Novelty Workers Local 223, was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $138,500 in forfeiture and a $5,000 fine. At his sentencing, the court also denied Miranti’s petition requesting more lenient terms of probation. (Miranti wanted to be exempted from a ban on holding union positions for 13 years after release.) Why the harsh punishment? In August, Miranti pled guilty to Conspiracy to Solicit and Receive Kickbacks to Influence the Operation of an Employee Benefit Plan.
    • In Iowa, Curtis Dean Lang, former President for the United Dairy Workers of LeMars, was indicted on one count of embezzling $45,040 in union funds.
    • In Missouri, Monique Tyson, former office secretary for Painters District Council 3, pled guilty to one count of falsifying union records. Tyson falsified entries in the union’s cash receipts journal to hide her embezzlement of anywhere between $7,500 and $20,864.
    • In Rhode Island, Christopher Hayes, former President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Local Lodge 8, was charged in a one-count information with wire fraud in the amount of $71,523.

    Check back next week for more union degeneracy.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly