Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

  1. New Report Exposes Hypocrisy of “Progressive” Starbucks Union Group

    This week, the Center for Union Facts released new research exposing the hypocritical investments and radical leadership of Workers United, the group behind the high-profile labor campaign to organize Starbucks workers nationwide.

    CUF’s research report is part of a new education campaign–launched this week to educate workers and call out Workers United as a “progressive poser” who owes union members, liberal supporters, and the general public some answers.

    Workers United has organized baristas across the country through an appeal to their progressive values. But the union has an alter ego: Workers United is the largest shareholder of Amalgamated Bank, a “socially responsible” institution which reports nine-figure investments to the SEC in industries—including fossil fuels, big tobacco, gun manufacturing, and more—which the union and bank publicly claim to oppose.

    This includes more than $700 million reported in fossil fuel-based companies, while maintaining that “none” of the bank’s money funds the “oil and gas or coal industries.” There’s also another reported $10 million in private prison and crowd control companies—including a tear gas manufacturer—despite claiming to be “very concerned” about the growth of the private prison industry. These private prison companies are the same groups that have been used to detain undocumented immigrants at the border and have been accused of compliance in former President Trump’s family separation policy. And another nearly $70 million in tobacco and gun/ammunition companies.

    The report also highlights the radical ideologies of Jaz Brisack, the high-profile leader of Starbucks Workers United who is on the record defending a convicted Palestinian terrorist and promoting other disturbing anti-Israel views.

    The hypocrisy of Workers United is staggering. The progressive workers with whom Workers United claims to align deserve an explanation.

    Categories: Workers United
  2. UAW Tries to Rewrite History on Corrupt Union Leadership

    In honor of President’s Day, the United Auto Workers (UAW) launched a series of videos to highlight their presidents, both past and present. But not everyone made the cut. Conveniently, the union decided to skip over about half a decade and two pretty consequential union leaders.

    Anyone watching the videos will notice the years 2014-2019 are missing. The UAW might be taking a page out of the Soviet Union’s playbook by trying to rewrite history, but we’re more than happy to set the record straight.

    Let’s start with Dennis Williams, who served as President of the UAW from 2014 to 2018. Williams was “convicted of conspiring with at least six other senior UAW officials in a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle money” from the union. He helped conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses which included “multi-month long stays at private villas in Palm Springs, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals.”

    For his role in the corruption scheme, Williams was sentenced to 21 months in prison and forced to pay $15,459 in restitution to the IRS as well as $132,517 in restitution to the UAW.

    Let’s not forget about Williams’ partner in crime, former President Gary Jones, who led the union from June 2018 to November 2019. Similar to Williams, Jones also enjoyed a lavish lifestyle on his members’ dime. He admitted to using members’ dues to pay for numerous personal expenses, including “golf clubs, private villas, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals costing over $750,000 in UAW funds.” He even used dues dollars to purchase “over $60,000 in cigars and four sets of custom-made golf clubs for the use of high-level UAW officials.”

    Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison and forced to pay $550,000 in restitution to the UAW as well as $42,000 restitution to the IRS.

    Poor Dennis was also ordered to forfeit a custom-made set of Titleist golf clubs and various golf clothing as part of a court order, while Gary was ordered to return four sets of custom-made golf clubs himself. The horror! Here’s to hoping their short game won’t suffer.

    It’s no wonder the UAW wants to erase these two from history. But as the union attempts to reform itself – now under the guidance of a court-appointed independent monitor – the corruption of the past should be a lesson to both union leaders and members, not a secret to be swept under the rug.

    As we await the results of the latest election for UAW President, let’s hope the next leader prioritizes union members over their golf game.

    Categories: UAW
  3. Tennessee Workers Deserve the Right to a Secret Ballot Vote

    Today, the Center for Union Facts (CUF) will run a full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times Free Press asking why the United Auto Workers (UAW) won’t give Tennessee Workers a secret ballot vote.

    The ad highlights new legislation introduced earlier this week in Tennessee that would protect the secret ballot vote in union elections on tax-payer funded projects. It also points out that when UAW members recently voted on who should be their next President, they were allowed to do so through a secret ballot. Workers that the UAW or any union want to organize should be afforded the same right.

    The ad features a union leader wearing an “I know how you voted” pin to emphasize how without secret ballots, no vote is private. The UAW supports a “card” check” system over secret ballot votes for its members. UAW President Ray Curry was recently quoted praising the union’s ability to organize a battery plant in Michigan: “Because of the foresight of collective bargaining, the UAW will be able to organize this new facility using a card check to prove majority interest.”

    The ad is meant to educate the public and workers about the bill and direct them to learn more about the importance of secret ballots at

    The legislation mentioned in the ad was introduced last Tuesday by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton. The bill would require companies receiving state subsidies to guarantee workers a secret ballot election during union organizing drives. It would also bar businesses from sharing employees’ personal information with labor groups.

    Right now, employers are allowed to recognize a union via a method known as “card check.” This system requires the union to get a majority of employees to publicly sign a union authorization card. It’s a largely unregulated system that puts employees at risk for coercion, intimidation and even bullying from union organizers.

    Fortunately, this bill would make sure that any company benefiting from tax payers dollars would also respect workers’ choice and the right to a secret ballot vote in union elections.

    Categories: UAWWorkplace Election Integrity
  4. Labor Racket Weekly: New Year, Same Union Corruption

    It may be a New Year, but it doesn’t look like union bosses have made any resolutions to do better in 2023. Check out the latest labor rackets below.

    In Rhode Island, Dennis Stone, former President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Local Lodge 13 (located in North Providence, R.I.), was indicted with three counts of embezzlement over $100, in violation of R.I. General Laws 11-41-3, and six counts of filing a false tax return.

    In Rhode Island, Christopher Petteruti, former Treasurer of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Local Lodge 13 (located in North Providence, R.I.), was indicted with two counts of embezzlement over $100.

    In theDistrict of Columbia, Crystal Mathis, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1812 (located in Washington, D.C.), was charged with one count of theft in the first degree.

    In Nebraska, Donald Fox, former Secretary-Treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 1836 (located in Scottsbluff, Neb.), was indicted on one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $24,620 and four counts of filing false reports.

    In Virginia, Albert Jennings Jr., former Secretary-Treasurer of Transportation Communications Union (TCU) Lodge 6061 (located in Roanoke, Va.), was sentenced to six months in prison, three months of home detention, one year of probation, and 300 hours of community service. Jennings was also ordered to pay a $500 fine. Jennings made full restitution of $39,331 prior to sentencing. On September 29, 2022, Jennings pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization.

    In Illinois, Western Division, Brent Toppert, former Financial Secretary-Treasurer of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) Local 238 (located in Morrison, Ill.), was charged in a criminal information with one count of embezzlement from a labor organization.

    In New Mexico, Manuel Anaya, former Financial Secretary of United Mine Workers for America (UMWA) Local 3106 (located in Socorro, N.M.), was indicted for 21 counts of embezzlement from a labor organization.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  5. Boston Petition Withdrawal Shows CWA’s CODE is Flawed

    The Communications Workers of America (CWA) was built on the 20th-century telephone industry, but has recently turned its focus to the 21st century digital workforce. The union’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE) “is a network of worker-organizers and their staff working every single day to build the voice and power necessary to ensure the future of the tech, game, and digital industries in the United States and Canada.”

    But like a boomer dad trying out a pair of skinny jeans, the union’s mid-life re-brand doesn’t look half as good as it thinks.

    The latest example comes from Boston, where the CWA today withdrew a petition to organize the video game studio Proletariat. The union announced the campaign to organize the video game studio just weeks ago. In its press release at the time, CWA said the outcome was all-but-certain, and suggested the company dispense with a secret ballot vote and recognize the union:

    A supermajority of workers at Activision Blizzard’s Proletariat studio have announced that they are forming the Proletariat Workers Alliance/CWA and have filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. Prior to filing for an election, the workers asked that management voluntarily recognize their union and respect their right to organize without retaliation or interference.
    To Proletariat’s credit, it declined the union’s invitation, and instead asked for an “anonymous voting process” to ensure everyone’s voice was heard. If that seems like a reasonable and pro-worker request, you’re not thinking like a CWA organizer. The union’s organizing committee went ballistic, launching a Twitter rant that said the company’s mild-mannered statement was “right out of the union-busting playbook.”

    In a revealing lament, it said the company was “forcing” an election. This is reminiscent of union leader Bruce Raynor’s infamous quote that “there’s no reason to subject the workers to an election.” Here in the United States, anyway, we tend to prefer making decisions through elections rather than the alternative.

    In the case of Proletariat, the employees themselves felt differently than their loud counterparts on Twitter. Shortly after the organizing committee’s eruption, it posted the mother of all walk-backs. As it turns out, “we, the workers of Proletariat”–to use the organizing committee’s phrase–were not as wild about a union.

    That tweet was the beginning of the end. A week later, the petition was withdrawn, but even in defeat the union lashed out. Workers were “demoralized and disempowered,” the union’s organizing committee alleged. More likely, the union felt demoralized and disempowered when it found out that workers didn’t want what it was selling.

    Perhaps next time, they’ll think before they tweet.

    Categories: CWA
  6. 11 NY Building Trades Officials Plead Guilty in Corruption Investigation

    It looks like some union bosses got nothing but coal in their stocking this Christmas. Earlier this month, it was announced that 11 former union officials, including James Cahill, former President of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), pleaded guilty to “charges stemming from their acceptance of bribes and illegal cash payments from a construction contractor.” The illegal payments were ongoing for two years from about October 2018 to October 2020 when the defendants were active union officials.

    The press release regarding the convictions describes union officials who “sold out” their hard-working members by “accepting bribes and cash payments in restaurant bathrooms.” This “shocking level of corruption” went all the way to the top of the union.

    According to the investigation, James Cahill — former president of the New York State BCTC which represents 200,000 unionized construction workers — accepted approximately $44,500 in bribes. He also acknowledged accepting at least $100,000 of additional bribes in connection with his union positions. Other convicted officials accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes.

    The goal of the bribes was to ensure that the relevant union would support the employer’s bids on various projects, and that the union would consider signing the employer to “favorable” labor agreements, including ones that would pay union workers lower rates than their experience merited. The union would also allow the employer to falsely claim to developers that it employed union workers.

    Cahill was reportedly the “leader of the conspiracy” who advised the employer that they could “reap the benefits of being associated with the unions without actually signing union agreements or employing union workers.”

    US Attorney Damian Williams summed up the investigation:

    “The defendants exploited their union positions and hard-working union members to feed their own greed.  They accepted bribes to corruptly favor non-union employers and influence the construction trade in New York.  The convictions in this case reflect our continuing commitment to root out corruption and bring to justice those who abuse positions of power out of personal greed.”

    With such a widespread corruption scheme, it sounds like the BCTC could be following in the footsteps of the United Auto Workers. We’ll keep an eye out on any further developments in the investigation, but for the sake of union members let’s hope the corruption at the BCTC is coming to an end.

    Categories: Building and Construction Trades CouncilCrime & Corruption
  7. UAW Election Shake Up Could Mean a New Status Quo

    The election results for the United Auto Workers International Executive Board members are in, and it doesn’t look good for the union’s entrenched officials.

    According to the unofficial election results listed on the court-appointed monitor’s website, five of the seven members of the UAW Members United slate won their races. This slate has been the main challenger to the status quo at the union, with its candidates running on a platform of “no concessions” and “no corruption.”

    Overall, challengers took six of 14 open seats on the union’s International Executive Board.  According to the union’s constitution, winning the presidency requires gaining a majority of votes. None of the five presidential candidates accomplished this goal. Ray Curry, the current president, and Shawn Fain of the UAW Members United Slate, were the front runners with Curry leading by a mere 614 votes. And so their race will go to a runoff.

    If Fain and Daniel Vicente (Region 9 Director candidate) are both successful in their runoff elections, these upstarts will have majority control of the IEB, not to mention the presidency. This would almost certainly mean big changes at the union. The UAW Members United slate lists restoring “integrity, accountability, and transparency to the UAW” as its number one platform stance.

    Leaders were directly elected – instead of chosen by the union’s delegate system – for the first time in decades. A majority of union members voted to switch to direct elections following the UAW’s wide-scale corruption scandal. The election itself was part of the union’s settlement deal with the federal government.

    Newly elected leaders will be sworn in on December 12. As for the runoff elections, ballots will be mailed Jan. 12 and must be returned by Feb. 28.

    It’s obvious the old guard at the union was in need of a change. Despite several officials going to prison, including two former union presidents, the UAW’s commitment to reform remained questionable. The latest report from the independent monitor alleged that union officials obstructed his investigation into wrongdoing at the UAW. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

    But a big question remains: Will this shake up at the UAW successfully weed out corruption and finally put members’ interests first? Only time will tell.  

    Categories: UAW
  8. CUF Billboard Campaign Educates on UAW Corruption

    This week, the Center for Union Facts is putting up billboards in Lordstown, Ohio. The two billboards are part of an ongoing campaign to educate workers and the public on the United Auto Workers’ track record. One warns that the UAW is under federal oversight after a corruption scandal. The other notes that a federal investigation put several UAW officials behind bars.

    You can see each billboard here and here.

    Over the summer, CUF placed a similar mobile billboard outside of the UAW’s Constitutional Convention in Detroit, Michigan. The billboard was in response to an update filed by the UAW’s court-appointed monitor. The report details how union leaders allegedly obstructed his investigation into wrongdoing at the union and even concealed crucial evidence.

    The union seems to think it can outrun its bad reputation, but autoworkers and the public deserve to know the truth about the UAW’s track record.

    Workers are currently awaiting the results of the first direct election of the UAW’s International Executive Board in decades. Is the union’s status quo about to change, or will it be more of the same at the UAW?

    Categories: UAW