Where are your union dues going? You might find them in court, where union officers are facing embezzlement charges. Freda Hensley, a former Steelworkers Union president, recently admitted to ripping off members to the tune of $38,000. U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston gave her five years of probation — a slap on the wrist. But others might not be so lucky.
Take Claude Huff. The day before the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 held hearings on allegations that he overpaid himself with union funds, Huff resigned as its president. Now, a federal court has indicted him for the alleged theft. He’s on the hook for over $100,000.
Then there’s Laura Dixon, accused of pilfering as much as $170,216 in five years from the Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters. Her defense?
“Ms. Dixon’s attorney, Rick Kerger, said that the employee did not take money for her own use but instead falsified the financial records to help those having difficulty paying their union dues.”
Even if that oddball alibi wins out in court, it’s still a symptom of a larger problem: dues are routinely spent by labor leaders on partisan causes and political candidates, without the approval or support of members. Dropping those expenditures would certainly make sense to union members trying to fit dues into their strained budgets.
The picture these cases paint, meanwhile, is of a union system with corrupt officials who not only spend union money as they wish but siphon off handsome sums for themselves. Federal courts can haul in these abusers on a case by case basis, with long and costly trials, no doubt, to follow.