Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Contract Reveal Union’s Salty Tricks

    There’s an old saying: If you can’t beat them, join them. But if you’re a union boss, there’s a twist. Their saying goes something like: If you can’t beat them, join them with false pretenses to sow discord between workers until the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) backs you up.

    This is a process called “salting.” Unions pay an individual called a “salt” (using dues money from real workers) to take a job at a non-union workplace with the sole purpose of starting a union. The salt will keep tabs on the employer until they can give the union some negotiating leverage. They also act as a mouthpiece for the union.

    A salting contract obtained by the Center for Union Facts shows how it is done. This particular contract is dated January 22, 1993, and signed by a salt and the business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 323.

    The agreement states that the salt would be “under the strict supervision of the Business Manager of the Local Union” and that the salt would be “required to report back to the Business Manager on a regular and timely basis.” The salt also agreed to “carry out their organizing assignments” and “terminate” their salt job as soon as the assignment ended. You can read the full document here.

    IBEW and plenty of other unions have been using salts for decades. And while the practice may seem sketchy, it is legal and supported by the NLRB. In NLRB v. Town & Country Electric, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that employers who refused to hire or chose to fire a salt can be accused of an unfair labor practice.

    To clarify, salts are hired for the sole purpose of disrupting a non-union workplace to benefit a union that wants more members – and more dues dollars. Salts dig around for even the smallest perceived workplace issue and try to turn it into an unfair labor practices complaint that will bind up employers with hefty legal fees. They’d rather see a workplace bleed dry than let non-union workers keep their jobs. And the NLRB protects this behavior.

    Perhaps the NLRB should stop pouring salt in employers’ wounds and stand up against this dishonest union tactic.

     

    Categories: Uncategorized
  2. Full-Page Ad: AFL-CIO Prez Disgusted By UAW Corruption

    Today, the Center for Union Facts took out a full-page ad in the Chattanooga Times Free Press highlighting a recent quote from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler regarding corruption at the United Auto Workers: “I am disgusted.”

    In an interview this past week, Shuler revealed that the AFL-CIO “had internally discussed severing ties with the UAW” as a result of the years-long corruption scandal at the union. A federal investigation found more than a dozen officials — including two former union presidents — guilty of embezzlement and other gross misuse of members’ dues dollars.

    Another spokesperson attempted to walk Shuler’s comment back by saying the AFL-CIO is “proud to have the UAW as an affiliate.” But Shuler’s quote says it loud and clear: The corruption scandal at the UAW was bad enough to make the AFL-CIO want to cut ties with the union.

    Ford Motors and lawmakers in Tennessee should need no further proof that auto workers deserve a secret ballot vote to decide whether they want to be represented by a union with such a repulsive track record.

    Categories: Crime & CorruptionUAW
  3. New Report Details Concerning Labor Movement Trends

    A new report from the Institute for the American Worker (I4AW) details the ways in which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employers, and union executives are changing the workplace without much input from the workers themselves.

    The NLRB is the enforcement body established under the National Labor Relations Act. The board consists of five members, the majority of which usually share the political values of the president. So when leadership in Washington changes, so does labor law enforcement by the NLRB. For example, last year Gwynne A. Wilcox, Jennifer Ann Abruzzo, and David M. Prouty were nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate to give the NLRB a liberal majority. Unsurprisingly, all three members come from a big labor background.

    The new NLRB members have already signaled their intent to change how things are done. Here are just a few areas they may target:

    • Employer Speech Restrictions: Employers are already heavily restricted in what they can tell their employees when a union tries to organize. While unions can promise increased wages and improved benefits (even though they have no guarantees of either), employers are very limited in what they can say about the union. The new NLRB members, especially Abruzzo, have signaled support for even tighter restrictions on employer speech. The I4AW report warned that this could leave workers in a rut knowing only one-half of the union/employer argument.
    • Election Shake-Ups: Before the pandemic, the NLRB consistently supported in-person elections. But when Covid hit, mail-in and electronic voting options were allowed. The NLRB appears to want to keep this trend alive, despite concerns about ballot harvesting or other aggressive solicitation by unions.
    • Card Checks Continue: Unlike secret ballot elections, public card checks open the door for intimidation and other public pressure for workers. While unions love to use this tactic to organize, workers may enjoy the privacy of a secret ballot when deciding on union representation. The NLRB is set to decide a major case regarding card check votes. If they vote the way unions would like them to vote, it could make it even easier for unions to claim a majority vote with card check elections.

    If these trends continue to play out, many workers may ask themselves if the NLRB is there to protect their rights, or to protect the union bosses who are already in power. One big way to protect workers would be for Congress to pass legislation like the Employee Rights Act (ERA). This bill provides several safeguards against union coercion and other tactics, as well as guarantees workers a secret ballot election when it comes to union organizing.

    Categories: Employee Rights ActNLRB
  4. Labor Racket Weekly: New Year, Same Union Corruption

    So far, 2022 hasn’t been a banner year for union bosses. Check out the latest labor rackets of the New Year.

    In Kentucky, Linda Carter Shepherd, former Financial Secretary for Steelworkers Local 14637 (located in Hazard, Ky.), was sentenced to three months of home detention and five years of probation. She was also ordered to pay $39,491 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. On June 21, 2021, Shepherd pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor organization.

    In Connecticut, Superior Court District of Hartford, Carey L. Mallach, former Treasurer of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 3949, West Hartford Dormitory Supervisors (located in West Hartford, Conn.), was charged in an information with one count of larceny in the second degree for embezzling $17,800 from the union and two counts of forgery in the second degree in connection with his signing and filing two LM-3 reports, both of which contained false financial information.

    In Missouri, Scott E. Rodgers, President of Postal Mail Handlers Local 314 (located in St. Louis, Mo.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets.

    In Wisconsin, George Bindas Jr., former President of International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1295 (formerly located in Milwaukee, Wisc.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $1,751 and one count of theft from an employee welfare benefit plan in the amount of $18,319.

    In Michigan’s 16th Circuit Court, Jonathan Suminski, former President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2077 (located on the Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.), was charged in a one-count felony complaint for embezzling more than $1,000 but less than $20,000.

    In Michigan’s 16th Circuit Court, Darold Hubbard, former Executive Vice President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2077 (located on the Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.), was charged in a one-count felony complaint for embezzling more than $1,000 but less than $20,000.

    In Michigan, Kenneth Baumgarner, President of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 1147 (located in Grand Haven, Mich.), pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of union funds in the amount of $6,600.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  5. UAW Officially Switching to Direct Elections

    It’s official. UAW members will now get to choose their union officers through direct elections, rather than via the union’s decades-old delegate system. The historic change will be in place by June, in time for the UAW’s next election cycle.

    More than 63 percent, or 89,615 of current and retired UAW members voted in favor of the switch. This month, U.S. District Judge David Lawson in Detroit approved the results of the election. The vote itself was part of the settlement deal between the UAW and the federal government after a years-long investigation revealed a deep-seated culture of corruption at the union. The settlement also includes a six-year federal monitorship.

    The idea of direct elections gained popularity at the height of the federal investigation into wrongdoing at the UAW. As several high-ranking union officials, including two former UAW presidents, were accused and found guilty of contributing to a culture of luxury and excess, union members began calling for a move to a “one member, one vote” system.

    Of course, UAW leaders have been against switching up the status quo. Now-retired UAW President Rory Gamble came out against changing the voting system, saying “how we elect our leadership involves corruption in any way is just not true.” The union’s Administration Caucus even launched a new website ahead of the vote called ProtectTheWheel.org. It’s goal was to get members to “maintain the delegate voting system.” The union even tried to amend the rules of the election “to potentially allow limited and monitored use of union resources.”

    But the voices of thousands of union members were heard in the end. Even with this major change to how the UAW elects its leaders, the union stil has a long way to go to regain members’ trust.

     

    Categories: UAW
  6. What Tennesseans Have to Say About the UAW

    A Ford Motors plant is coming to Tennessee. While new jobs are certainly welcome, the UAW’s culture of corruption is not. In fact, a recent poll found that 2 out of 3 Tennesseans think Ford workers should have a secret ballot vote to decide whether they want to be represented by the union.

    The Center for Union Facts has launched an education campaign in Tennessee to keep the UAW’s corruption out of the state. It includes a series of billboards and print ads in the state capitol that emphasize the need to preserve workers’ right to a secret ballot.

    Tennesseans themselves had a lot to say about the UAW’s potential presence in Memphis. Here are just a few examples:


     

     

     





    It looks like plenty of Tennesseans believe their state — and its auto jobs– are doing just fine without the corrupt influence of the UAW. We have to say we agree.

    Categories: UAWUncategorized
  7. Investigation Uncovers Double-Dipping Leadership, Election Rigging in Carpenters Union

    According to hearing documents obtained by the Center for Union Facts, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) confirmed that leaders from its Pacific Northwest Regional Council rigged votes and double-paid leaders. 

    The Council was placed under a trusteeship during the investigation which began last October. The Council notified the UBC that it would “welcome” an independent investigation after it noticed many irregularities following a ratification vote for a Master Labor Agreement in western Washington. UBC obliged and this is what was found:

    • In 2021, the Associated General Contractors of America’s agreement with the region was up for ratification. After two votes failed, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council’s executive secretary-treasurer, Evelyn Shapiro, came up with a plot to fix the vote. 
    • Shapiro, along with Juan Sanchez, the Council’s Director of Organizing, began using the voter identification numbers of members who had not yet voted to tip the scales in their favor. The scheme fell apart after many members began to receive notices that they could not vote because they had already voted. 
    • This wasn’t Shapiro’s first rodeo. The investigation uncovered that she had also ordered Dan Hutchins, the Council’s Contract Administrator, to “fix the fucking vote” during the Eastern Washington Master Labor Agreement, which Hutchins admitted doing. 
    • Shapiro also failed to disclose that the union’s pension was underwater. To top things off, she also failed to increase the liability insurance on the pension – which could have helped mitigate the losses. (Shapiro resigned from the union mid-investigation.)
    • While digging into Shapiro’s mess, the investigation also found that Ken Ervin, a Council Representative, and Kristine Cole, his Lead – both officers of Local Union 129 – had established a double-dipping pay scheme in which Ervin collected overtime pay to attend meetings for the Local. After Ervin was outed for double-dipping, he turned on Cole and told investigators that Cole remodeled her home while claiming to be a worker for the union. She was only able to get away with this because Ervin covered for her. 
    • Auditors found that the union had multiple serious irregularities, including excessive political donations beyond the legal limits, failure to file a scholarship fund with the state, failure to collect dues, and even providing a pension and a vehicle to non-members. 
    • The union also had excessive hiring of staff – including one hilariously inept comptroller who “did not understand the rudimentary obligations of her position” more than 8 months into the job. Another full-time employee reported that he visited one job site per week and took occasional calls from home. 

    The Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters embodied the incompetence and unethical behavior unions have championed for years. The investigation should outrage members, but it shouldn’t surprise them. 

     

    Categories: Carpenters UnionCrime & Corruption
  8. CUF Calls for Secret Ballot Vote at Tennessee Ford Plant

    This week, as state lawmakers return to the Tennessee Capitol, the Center for Union Facts is launching the next phase of its public education campaign to keep United Auto Workers’ corruption out of Tennessee.

    The campaign includes five digital billboards and a full-page ad in the Tennessean that highlights a new statewide Engine Insights poll of 1,000 Tennesseans.

    The billboards — which are located near the state capitol in Nashville, Tennessee — feature three different messages.

    • The first states that “11 UAW officials were found guilty of corruption” in the federal investigation into wrongdoing at the union. 
    • The second calls on Tennesseans, especially legislators returning to Nashville, to keep UAW corruption out of the state. 
    • The third billboard highlights recent polling commissioned by CUF that found 2 out of 3 Tennesseans think Ford workers should have a secret ballot vote to decide whether they want to be represented by the UAW. 
    The full-page ad mirrors the recent polling data, stating that “UAW corruption has no place in Memphis.” 

    The majority of Tennesseans agree: employees at the forthcoming Ford auto plant deserve a secret ballot vote. It’s the fair and democratic way for workers to have their voices heard, especially regarding a union that still has a long way to go to rid its ranks of corruption.
    Categories: UAW