Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Labor Racket Weekly: Summertime Sadness

    Millions of Americans are ready for the July 4th holiday, and union officials need the day off more than most. Late June was littered with stories of embezzlement, theft, and wire fraud, as numerous labor unions were forced to grapple with trial dates and prison sentences. You can see many of the stories here:

    • On June 27th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Annette Jones, former Secretary-Treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 331 (located in Perry Point, Md.), was indicted on one count of bank fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1344, 18 U.S.C. 1341, and 18 U.S.C. 1028A, respectively.
    • On June 26th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Dorian Nicely, former business agent of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzle labor union assets for embezzling $57,310 from the union, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.
    • On June 26th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, Dennis Nicely, former Vice President of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 264 (located in Hampton, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzle labor union assets for embezzling $57,310 from the union, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.
    • On June 18th, 2018, in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, Daniel Ross, former Treasurer of Transportation and Communications Union/International Association of Machinists (TCU/IAM) Lodge 6721 (located in Oakland, Calif.), pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of Grand Theft of Personal Property in the amount of $4,607, in violation of California Penal Code Section 487(a). Ross was immediately sentenced to 30 days of incarceration (suspended) and three years of probation.
    • On June 18th, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Cheryl Angell, former Treasurer of United Steelworkers of America Local 2-144 (located in Combined Locks, Wisc.), was sentenced to 13 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Angell was also ordered to pay $98,711 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On March 22, 2018, Angell pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling $98,711 in union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C 501(c). The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee District Office.

    Touch base after the holiday for more union fails!

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  2. Janus Decision a Win for Workplace Freedom

    This week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiff Mark Janus, a longtime American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) agency fee-payer.

    Because he did not want to financially support AFSCME, Janus argued that his $45 monthly fee was unconstitutional, infringing on his First Amendment rights. Janus’ also claimed that, since public-sector unions like AFSCME negotiate with the government, agency fees inherently constitute a form of political advocacy that no American should be compelled to support.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court sided with the First Amendment, freeing Janus and millions of public-sector employees from compelled speech. In Justice Samuel Alito’s words: “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”

    The Janus decision essentially extends right-to-work to America’s public sector, allowing employees to choose whether or not they wish to financially support the union soliciting money from them. As InsideSources’ Connor Wolf put it, “mandatory union payments are [now] outlawed in the public sector,” stripping public-sector unions of resources and much of their political clout. Union officials estimate a 20  to 40 percent drop in membership, which translates to millions of dollars in lost revenue. A 20 percent reduction in membership of the California Teachers Association, for example, would lead to more than $40 million in lost money. New York City’s United Federation of Teachers local projects a 20 percent reduction in membership will translate to $16 million in lost dues.

    Extend the projections to all public-sector unions, and they lose hundreds of millions of dollars in political muscle—long used to curry favor from the Democratic Party and lobby for pro-union policies. As we’ve noted before, union officials have sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues to liberal advocacy groups in recent years—without prior approval.

    Of course, the Janus ruling isn’t inherently anti-union; it merely forces AFSCME and other public-sector unions to make a stronger case for union membership to employees. Public-sector workers can still financially support a labor union, if they so choose. Janus just gave all of them that choice.

    Categories: AFSCMERight-to-WorkTeachers Unions
  3. SEIU Scraps Health and Safety Program. Too Much Politics?

    According to Jordan Barab, a former Labor Department official under President Obama and longtime union staffer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is scrapping its health and safety program.

    The SEIU—America’s largest labor union and one of its most politically active—is laying off its last health and safety official, Mark Catlin, next month. As Barab notes, Catlin “has been [the] SEIU’s lone health and safety staffer for many months.” It’s a curious personnel decision, given the SEIU’s marketing shtick. Like many unions, the SEIU often touts the “pivotal role” it plays “securing legislated labor protections and rights such as safety and health, overtime, and family/medical leave and in enforcing those rights on the job for all workers.” SEIU President Mark Kay Henry frequently positions herself as an expert on “health and safety.”

    While the SEIU’s many locals are still representing healthcare workers, the SEIU’s national department that was known for lobbying the Labor Department and other federal agencies to enact stricter workplace regulations is no more.

    The SEIU is not alone: Last year, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) also “dissolved its health and safety department when long-time director Darryl Alexander retired,” Barab notes. (The AFT routinely boasts about its health and safety work.) In fact, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is “now the only labor union representing large numbers of health care workers that has full-time paid health and safety staff in their national office.”

    In 2005, the AFL-CIO merged its health and safety program with its government affairs department, which tells you a lot about Big Labor’s priorities. Amid declining investments in health and safety, labor unions have ramped up political advocacy spending, shifting their focus from worker representation to political gamesmanship. After its $100 million Fight for $15 campaign saw drastic cutbacks last year, the SEIU quickly pivoted to a $100 million campaign aimed at electing pro-union Democrats in the Midwest.

    Since 2010, union officials have sent more than $1.3 billion in member dues (without prior approval) to liberal advocacy groups, including the Democratic Governors Association, Clinton Foundation, and Planned Parenthood.

    Categories: AFL-CIOAFSCMEAFTSEIUUnion Spending
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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