Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. Labor Racket Weekly: Fall Fails

    From embezzlement and misappropriation to fraud and theft, check out the latest fall fails from labor bosses below: 

    In Pennsylvania, Joseph Whitbeck, former Vice President of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 274 (located in Allentown, Pa.), pleaded guilty to 10 counts of honest services wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.

    In Georgia, Savannah Division, Connie Deal, former bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 508 (located in Savannah, Ga.), was charged with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $243,003 and one count of making a false entry.

    In Illinois, Patrick King, former President of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, Division of IBT, Lodge 2401 (located in Cicero, Ill.), was charged with three counts of continuing financial crimes enterprise totaling $11,203 and one count of misappropriation of financial institution property totaling $2,000.

    In the District of Columbia, Donnell Owens, former Secretary to the Communications Director of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National Union (located in Washington, D.C.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization for embezzling $275,524 from the union.

    In Tennessee, James Michael Foote, former Treasurer of Steelworkers Local 9-137 (located in Manchester, Tenn.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union assets, in the amount of $86,268.

    In 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 sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by 12 months of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $155,638 in restitution. On November 20, 2018, Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). Additionally, on July 30, 2021, Bennett was found guilty after a jury trial of one count of health care fraud.

    In Virginia, Richmond Division, Nintay Edwards, former Financial Secretary of Steelworkers Local 694 (located in Richmond, Va.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization for embezzling $66,684 from the union.

    In Massachusetts, Joshua Fernandes, former Treasurer of the New Bedford Police Union (located in New Bedford, Mass.), pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud of union funds totaling $48,631.

    In Texas, Michael Paul Garza, former President and Secretary-Treasurer of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 1093 (located in Brownsville, Tex.), was charged with one count of theft of property by a public servant, in the amount greater than $2,500 and less than $30,000, and one count of theft of property from a non-profit organization, in the amount greater than $2,500 and less than $30,000.

    In the District of California, Rachel Marie Gleason, former Treasurer of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART) Local 1700 (located in Perris, Calif.), was sentenced to 36 months of probation. She was also ordered to pay $10,698 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On June 30, 2021, Gleason pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds.

    In Virginia, Richmond Division, Nintay Edwards, former Financial Secretary of United Steelworkers Local 694 (located in Richmond, Va.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of embezzlement from a labor organization for embezzling $66,684.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionLabor Racket Weekly
  2. UAW Still a Long Way From Ridding Corruption From its Ranks

    The United Auto Workers (UAW) union may claim to hold union funds “in sacred trust,” but a years long corruption investigation into UAW says otherwise. So it was only fitting that this week, a top official at UAW Local 412 – “one of the largest amalgamated locals” – was hit by embezzlement charges only one day before a court-appointed monitor faulted the UAW for falling short in reform efforts.

    Federal prosecutors claim Tim Edmunds, the financial secretary and treasurer of Local 412 embezzled “about $2 million” in union funds and used the money to bankroll “high-end shopping sprees,” “child support payments,” and “gambling binges.” If convicted, Edmunds faces up to twenty years in prison.  

    The alleged embezzlement is so severe that the Local’s president called for placing the Local under administratorship. The Local’s president also claimed the embezzlement was “very elaborate,” but in reality, Edmunds simply spent years making “unauthorized transfers” to “an unknown [bank] account,” totaling around $1.5 million. A professor at the University of Michigan’s business school commented the theft was “hard to miss if you had your eyes open.”

    Meanwhile, Neil Barofsky,  the UAW’s federal court-appointed monitor, chided the union in a court filing this week for failing to excise the union’s “‘toxic’ culture,” including “favoritism,” “nepotism,” and a continued fear among some employees that they will be retaliated against for reporting concerns. Barofsky also disclosed that he has opened 15 separate “investigations” into UAW officials – despite the union’s initial refusal to cooperate. 

    While announcing the charges against Edmunds, acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsi proclaimed UAW members “deserve a union free of corrupt and crooked leadership.” We could not agree more. The question is: will that ever be possible at the UAW?

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW
  3. CUF Launches Campaign To Keep UAW Corruption Out of TN

    Today — in conjunction with the Tennessee General Assembly’s special session on the forthcoming Ford auto plant — the Center for Union Facts (CUF) is launching a public education campaign to keep United Auto Workers’ corruption out of Tennessee.

    The campaign includes five digital billboards, a full-page ad in the Tennessean, and a letter writing campaign.

    The billboards feature two different messages. The first message calls on legislators to “Keep UAW Corruption Out of Tennessee.” The second features a green checkmark next to “Ford Jobs in Memphis” and a large red “X” next to “UAW Corruption,” signifying that Ford auto jobs are welcome in the Memphis region, but they should come without UAW representation attached.

    All five billboards are located around the state capitol in Nashville. You can see each billboard design here and here.

    The full-page ad running in the Tennessean today mirrors the digital billboard with a green checkmark next to “Ford Jobs” and a red “X” next to UAW corruption. You can see the full ad here. It calls on Tennessee workers to be guaranteed a secret ballot vote on UAW representation.

    The campaign is also calling on Tennesseans to send letters to the Governor and their legislators asking them to guarantee future Ford auto workers a secret ballot vote on whether or not they want to be represented by the union. Concerned Tennesseans can send letters to their elected officials here.

    Categories: Center for Union FactsCrime & CorruptionUAW
  4. SEIU Boss Resigns After Being Hit With Embezzlement Charges

    The executive director of the California SEIU resigned after she and her husband were hit with 13 felony charges, including embezzlement, tax fraud, and perjury.

    According to the criminal complaint, Hernandez and her husband, Jose Samoyoa Moscoso, schemed to siphon thousands of dollars from the Working Families for Solorio for Senate — an SEIU PAC. Hernandez was treasurer of the PAC, which supported Orange County Democrat Jose Solorio, a former assembly member, in his 2014 bid for state senate.

    Hernandez cut two separate checks to her husband totaling $11,700. In the campaign finance disclosures, Hernandez claimed she was paying Samoyoa Moscoso $7,200 as a food vendor after he provided meals for 80 campaign workers from October 19 to October 30, 2014. In the second payment, Hernandez claimed she paid Samoyoa Moscoso $4,500 for food served from November 2 to November 4.

    But Samoyoa Moscoso does not own a food service company. He owns an air duct cleaning business.

    As investigators continued to poke around, they discovered that Samosa Moscoso and Hernandez allegedly evaded paying taxes by underreporting their income. They also alleged that Samosa Moscoso failed to pay unemployment insurance or personal income tax. In total, the duo underreported more than $1 million over five years.

    The two face 13 felony charges including two counts of embezzlement, felony perjury, and tax fraud. Because the behavior was part of a pattern, prosecutors added a special allegation of “aggravated white collar crime” which shorted the state of more than $100,000.  The complaint estimated that the couple owes the state $140,000 and they could be facing time in jail, as well.

    Hernandez had been with the California SEIU for 11 years and served as its executive director for more than five years, according to her LinkedIn. Prior to her time as executive director, she was California SEIU’s political director.

    Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California State Council, said the union was still trying to figure out “how this break in trust could have occurred.” That’s not exactly a reassuring response if you’re a union member.

    Despite lots of union cash, Solorio did not win his 2014 race. He did, however, rack up several complaints from the state’s campaign finance commission after missing a number of campaign finance disclosure deadlines and for using campaign money on apartment rent. In addition to receiving $8,200 from the SEIU, Solorio also received donations from California Teamsters, the Sheet Metal Workers Local 105, and the California Teachers Association, among others.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionSEIU
  5. 11 Reasons Ford Should Keep UAW Out of Tennessee

    This month, Ford announced a plan to bring auto jobs to Tennessee. But it’s unclear if those jobs will come with a union attached — in this case, the United Auto Workers union.

    This Sunday, the Center for Union Facts is taking out a full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Tennessean highlighting “11 Reasons Ford Should Keep the UAW Out of Tennessee.” Each reason is depicted as the image, name, and title of the eleven high-ranking UAW officials who were found guilty in the years-long investigation into corruption at the union.

    The ad notes “the company’s jobs are welcome in the state, but the UAW and its culture of corruption are not.” The union is currently under a six-year federal monitor to weed out corruption in its ranks.

    The ad directs viewers to learn more about the union’s scandals at UAWInvestigation.com.

    Eleven high-ranking union officials were convicted in the UAW’s corruption scandal. That’s not just one bad apple, it’s an institutional rot that will take years for the union — and its members — to recover from. Tennessee autoworkers deserve better.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW
  6. Labor Racket Weekly: The Latest in Union Corruption

    Need to catch up on the latest in union corruption? Here are some of the latest labor rackets from the end of Summer.

    In New York (SDNY), Salvatore Tagliaferro, former President of Carpenters Local 926 (located in Brooklyn, N.Y.) and a former New York City District Council of Carpenters Representative, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $145,065 in restitution and $296,400 in forfeiture. On April 28, 2021, following a jury trial, Tagliaferro was found guilty on all charges relating to a scheme to sell union “books” or membership cards (union property) for cash bribes: conversion of union assets (29 U.S.C. 501(c)), honest services wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1346 and 1343), aiding and abetting (18 U.S.C. 2) both the conversion of union assets and the honest services wire fraud, as well as conspiracy (18 U.S.C. 371). The sentencing follows a joint investigation by the OLMS New York District Office, the Public Corruption Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office SDNY, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and the New York City Department of Investigation.

    In Michigan, Hasan Zahdeh, former President of Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers (located in Muskegon, Mich.), was sentenced to 14 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $140,498 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On April 13, 2021, Zahdeh pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c). The sentencing follows an investigation by the OLMS Minneapolis Resident Investigator Office.

    In Texas, Crystal Nicole Cruz, former President of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local Lodge CE-3 (located in Corpus Christi, Tex.), was charged with one count of aggregation of amounts involved in theft and one count of misapplication of fiduciary property in the amount greater than $2,500 and less than $30,000, in violation of Texas Statutes 31.09 and 32.45(c)(4), respectively. The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Dallas-New Orleans District Office.

    In Texas, Sally Ann Gutierrez, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local Lodge CE-3 (located in Corpus Christi, Tex.), was charged with one count of aggregation of amounts involved in theft and one count of misapplication of fiduciary property in the amount greater than $2,500 and less than $30,000, in violation of Texas Statutes 31.09 and 32.45(c)(4), respectively. The charges follow an investigation by the OLMS Dallas-New Orleans District Office.

    In California, Stephen A. Rooze, former Secretary-Treasurer for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 662 (located in Burbank, Calif.), pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzling union funds, in violation of 29 U.S.C. 501(c), and admitted to embezzling a total of $140,064 over an eight-year period. The guilty plea follows an investigation by OLMS Los Angeles District Office.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionLabor Racket Weekly
  7. Will UAW Remain Neutral in Potential Switch to Direct Elections?

    Last week, former United Auto Workers (UAW) presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones checked into prison to serve their respective 21-month and 28-month sentences as punishment for their roles in the corruption scandal at the union. It represented what should be a symbolic end to the years-long investigation that found several high-ranking union officials guilty of embezzling union dues and defrauding members.

    But the drama at the UAW may not be over yet.

    UAW members are gearing up to vote on whether or not the union’s leaders should be decided by direct election — an idea that gained popularity at the height of the federal investigation into wrongdoing at the UAW. As more leaders were accused and found guilty of contributing to a culture of luxury and excess — all at the expense of the union’s rank-and-file — union members called for a move to a “one member, one vote” system. Right now, union leaders are chosen by delegates at a convention that’s held every four years.

    According to the court appointed independent monitor, election ballots will be mailed out in October and the results will be tallied “as soon as possible.” But current UAW leaders don’t seem to want to stay neutral on the matter.

    The UAW and the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards “have reached an impasse on the issue of the use of Union resources to advocate on the Referendum question.” The UAW wants to amend the rules “to potentially allow limited and monitored use of union resources.” Translation: the union wants to use members’ dues money to discourage members from voting in favor of direct elections.

    We already know recently retired UAW President Rory Gamble is skeptical about allowing direct elections. He’s come out against them as a solution to the union’s long standing corruption problems: “To say how we elect our leadership involves corruption in any way is just not true. It is simply a political reach and something being perpetrated by people who see an opportunity here from a very bad situation.”

    If the UAW gets its way, the timeline for voting could be extended. But in the meantime, the monitor noted that “any use of union resources to advocate for either side of the referendum will be a violation” of the rules.

    If the UAW is truly committed to reform, it should remain neutral on the issue of direct elections and take its lead from auto workers. It’s the least UAW leaders can do to make things right for its rank-and-file.

     

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW
  8. CUF Calls Out Teachers Unions For Anti-Student Agenda in New Video, Website

    This Labor Day weekend, the Center for Union Facts launched a new campaign to hold teachers unions accountable for keeping schools shuttered and students stuck at home during the pandemic. Despite the best efforts of teachers union leaders — including the American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) Randi Weingarten — to rewrite history, teachers unions were one of the main drivers behind the effort to keep schools closed. 

    Teachers unions ignored clear medical, scientific, and academic consensus that schools could and should safely reopen. As a result, students have fallen behind both academically and socially. Cities throughout the country have reported that minority students and students from low-income families in particular suffered the most from school closures.

    The “Thanks Teachers Unions” campaign features a video advertisement where several parents sarcastically “thank” unions for keeping children home from school, allowing students to fall behind academically, and teaching controversial lesson plans in the classroom.

    Frustrated parents can visit ThanksTeachersUnions.com to learn more about how teachers unions failed their children. They can also sign a petition to hold teachers unions accountable.

    Teachers unions fought to keep schools closed for more than a year. Now that the damage done to students is clear, leaders of the nation’s largest teachers unions have the audacity to claim they wanted to reopen schools the whole time. But they shouldn’t be allowed to rewrite history. Parents and teachers alike won’t soon forget that unions advocated for shutting down schools and isolating children at home long after it was proven safe to let students return.

    Categories: AFTNEATeachers Unions