Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Page 31

  1. Labor Racket Weekly: More Embezzlement Ensues

    shutterstock_547250767As union funds disappear, more union bosses are being charged with embezzlement. Here are this week’s craziest rackets:

    • In Connecticut, Andrew Thibodeau, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local Lodge 1433, was charged in a one-count information for embezzling union funds exceeding $70,000. Thibodeau pled guilty to the charge.
    • In Ohio, David Sager, former President of United Steelworkers Local 5000, was indicted on three counts of filing false income tax returns. In September, Sager was previously charged with nine counts of embezzlement, 18 counts of mail fraud, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement.
    • In Indiana, Fenna Saylors, former Treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 378, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement. Saylors embezzled approximately $16,647.

    Come back next week for more stories of union corruption.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  2. Investigation of Boilermakers Reveals “Lavish Spending Practices and a Lack of Accountability”

    30 pieces of silverThere’s wasteful spending and then there’s the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. According to a recent Kansas City Star investigation, the 58,000-member Boilermakers union has earned quite a reputation for “fine dining, stays in posh hotels, and expensive hunting retreats,” while union officials and their relatives take home hefty six-figure salaries.

    In 2016, President Newton Jones’ total compensation climbed to a whopping $756,973—roughly $460,000 more than Richard Trumka’s take-home pay last year. (The key distinction being that Jones’ union totals 58,000 members, while Trumka oversees 12.5 million employees.) The Boilermakers boss took home more than Trumka and Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, combined! But, as the Star‘s Judy Thomas reports, that’s only the tip of the iceberg:

    • The salaries of the union’s seven top officers now add up to $2.5 million, with total disbursements to those officers exceeding $3.5 million. Of the 107 other employees, 46 earn six-figure salaries, with 16 of them receiving total disbursements of more than $200,000—including one of $365,546.
    • Family members of executives are still earning healthy salaries working for the union or its affiliates, and Jones’ wife is now on the payroll along with his brother and son.
    • The union headquarters continues to spend sizable sums on classy hotels, fine cuisine and entertainment, such as season tickets to professional sporting events.
    • Federal authorities, including the U.S. Department of Labor, have investigated the $28 million Boilermaker Vacation Plan and one of its local lodges.

    And don’t forget the luxury gatherings:

    • Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa, where the union spent $51,560 for an international executive council meeting and $320,511 for a construction division conference.
    • The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where the union spent $343,879 on industrial sector operations conference expenses. An added bonus for those attending: Pole Position Raceway, a Las Vegas go-kart track where the union spent $5,250.
    • The InterContinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza, where the union spent $16,356 on a holiday party.

    Yet the Boilermakers have retained their lavish lifestyle despite a steady drop in members. The union’s membership fell from 57,203 employees in 2012 to just over 53,000 workers four years later.

    It’s not the first time that the Boilermakers have come under fire. The Star similarly investigated the union in 2012, which led the Boilermakers to briefly change its spending practices. Alas, it appears that reform was short-lived.

    Categories: AFL-CIOSEIUUnion Spending
  3. Labor Racket Weekly: Thousands Of Dollars In Restitution Payments

    shutterstock_547250767When union dues are collected, the money can end up deep in union bosses’ pockets. This week, we have more examples of labor rackets from across the country:

    • In Virginia, William Dixon, former Secretary-Treasurer of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 2014, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to undergo counseling and drug treatment. Dixon was also ordered to pay the remaining restitution of $3,408 after previously paying $930. In December, Dixon pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union for embezzling $4,338 from his own union members.
    • In Minnesota, Scot McNamara was sentenced to four months of house arrest and two years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $8,871 in restitution, a $3,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and $4,000 in reimbursement to the U.S. Treasury Department for the cost of his legal bills. In December, McNamara pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a labor union.
    • In Illinois, Michael Schofield, former Secretary-Treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way (BMW) Local 1046, was sentenced to eight months of incarceration, and one year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $30,641 in restitution and a $25 fine. In January, Schofield pled guilty to one count of making a false entry which helped conceal an embezzlement of union funds totaling $31,850 during 2012 and 2013. In the plea, Schofield admitted to making unauthorized loans of union funds to himself in excess of $2,000. For the purpose of computing his sentence, Schofield admitted to defrauding his employer of $30,641.
    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  4. Wall Street Journal Highlights SEIU’s Fight for $15 Boondoggle

    graphIn today’s Wall Street Journal, CUF Executive Director Richard Berman explained how the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Fight for $15 has failed to recruit new union members. Citing the SEIU’s recently released 2016 financial filings, Mr. Berman finds that the union has spent at least $90 million on the campaign since its launch in 2012. However, in his words:

    The SEIU might be losing hope: A Center for Union Facts analysis found that the union paid workers organizing committees $14.7 million in 2016, down from $16.4 million the year before.

    With membership declining, the SEIU’s cutback was inevitable. Since 2011 the union has shed nearly 21,000 dues-paying members, despite spending millions of dollars trying to unionize restaurant workers. The restaurant industry—a major unionization target for decades—boasts a union-membership rate of only 1.7 percent.

    The union’s failure to convert the Fight for $15 into new members presents an existential threat to its business model. Andy Stern, the former SEIU president, argues that the union cannot continue paying for its social-justice work with revenue it makes from bargaining contracts “because collective bargaining is shrinking.” Harold Meyerson, executive editor of the American Prospect, admits that the goal of unionizing fast-food workers is “as elusive today” as it was when the Fight for $15 began.

    The full piece, titled “Honey, I Shrunk the Union,” can be read here.

    Categories: SEIU
  5. Labor Racket Weekly: $275,000 in Allegedly Stolen Money—and Kickbacks, Too!

    shutterstock_547250767Another day, another series of union fails. Here are this week’s craziest union rackets:

    • In New York, Johnnie Miranti, former Secretary-Treasurer of Toy and Novelty Workers Local 223, was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $138,500 in forfeiture and a $5,000 fine. At his sentencing, the court also denied Miranti’s petition requesting more lenient terms of probation. (Miranti wanted to be exempted from a ban on holding union positions for 13 years after release.) Why the harsh punishment? In August, Miranti pled guilty to Conspiracy to Solicit and Receive Kickbacks to Influence the Operation of an Employee Benefit Plan.
    • In Iowa, Curtis Dean Lang, former President for the United Dairy Workers of LeMars, was indicted on one count of embezzling $45,040 in union funds.
    • In Missouri, Monique Tyson, former office secretary for Painters District Council 3, pled guilty to one count of falsifying union records. Tyson falsified entries in the union’s cash receipts journal to hide her embezzlement of anywhere between $7,500 and $20,864.
    • In Rhode Island, Christopher Hayes, former President of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Local Lodge 8, was charged in a one-count information with wire fraud in the amount of $71,523.

    Check back next week for more union degeneracy.

    Categories: Labor Racket Weekly
  6. SEIU Wastes $19 Million on the Fight for $15 in 2016

    chalkThe Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has released its 2016 financial disclosures with the Department of Labor. (You can see them here.) The numbers aren’t pretty.

    An analysis by the Center for Union Facts (CUF) reveals that the union spent more than $19 million on the Fight for $15 in 2016. CUF estimates that the total cost is at least $90 million since 2012—the year of the campaign’s launch—when key worker centers and law firms linked to the campaign are included in the total. Last year, nearly $14.8 million went to Workers Organizing Committees (WOCs) that help run the SEIU’s campaign and more than $1.7 million went to public relations firm BerlinRosen Public Affairs. Some of the recipients include the Fast Food Workers Committee ($3.6 million), Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago ($2.4 million), and Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice ($250,000). (The latter orchestrated New York’s job-killing $15 minimum wage mandate.)

    The $19 million figure is likely a conservative estimate, as it excludes items such as staff salaries, expenses paid for additional legal services, and money paid to certain advocacy groups like the left-wing Economic Policy Institute.

    While the SEIU’s membership increased from 1,887,941 employees in 2015 to 1,901,161 employees last year, the union’s membership has generally declined over the past six years: The SEIU claimed 1,921,786 union members in 2011, the year before the start of the Fight for $15—almost 21,000 more employees than it had in 2016. You read that right: Despite spending at least $90 million to unionize the restaurant industry, the SEIU has lost nearly 21,000 union members! As Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte reports, “Membership for the union … has been waning since the start of the initiative.”

    Employees are basically telling the SEIU that they’re not interested in what the union is selling, reminiscent of the failed OUR Walmart campaign from a few years back.

    Will the SEIU finally learn its lesson in 2017?

    Categories: Anti-Corporate CampaignsDOLSEIU
  7. Tax Dollars Instead of Dues: How Your Taxes are Paying for Union Business

    shutterstock_313474802According to a new report, government employees spent nearly 3.5 million hours conducting union business in 2014—a 20 percent jump since 2008. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found that the average rate for these services was $41.34 per hour, costing taxpayers $162.5 million in total.

    The Federal Government’s labor management relations program has grown into a monstrosity since President Kennedy signed an executive order creating it in 1962. In 1978, the program was further cemented by Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, also known as the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. But what was originally a temporary organization has ballooned out of control. The organization now spends millions of dollars each year negotiating with labor unions.

    Between 2012 and 2014, the Export-Import Bank saw a 1,305 percent increase in official time spent, which indicates the number of official time hours expended per bargaining unit employee in a fiscal year. The International Boundary and Water Commission witnessed a 543 percent increase in official time, while the National Science Foundation saw the third-largest change—more than 290 percent.

    Yet, as The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris notes:

    “The increase in union activities came despite the fact that union membership in the federal workforce has fallen in recent years. Unions represented 1.2 million non-postal employees in 2014—a 1.5 percent drop from 2012. Unions lost about 20,000 members in the past two years, following broader labor trends in which union membership has fallen to historic lows in the post-World War II era.”

    Union membership is weaker than ever, but taxpayers are paying more than ever supporting union business. Tax reform might be picking up steam, but Congress should not forget labor reform.

    Categories: Unfair ShareUnion MathUnion Spending
  8. Trump Budget Axes Union-Funding Harwood Grant

    shutterstock_546004372President Trump’s budget sent shockwaves throughout Washington, D.C., especially the Department of Labor (DOL). It slashes the DOL’s funding from $12.2 billion this year to $9.6 billion next year—a 21 percent cut. Only the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department would see greater cuts if Congress approves.

    On the chopping block is the DOL’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, which gives out grants to nonprofit organizations to train workers in dangerous jobs (in theory, at least). That includes labor unions and labor-affiliated advocacy groups, who received millions of dollars from the grant program under President Obama. The United Auto Workers (UAW) received $148,500 to lecture about “injury and illness prevention” and “cultures of safety in small and medium sized establishments.” The Worker Justice Center of New York was paid $148,498 to provide “1.5 to 2-hour training for the agricultural, food services, and hotel industries,” while the Interfaith Justice Center received $131,200 for similar training sessions. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Make the Road New York, and Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) have also received Harwood grants to “train workers.”

    There are a few problems with Harwood grants. In one of ROC’s training manuals, the funded group urged employees to “take action” by “work[ing] with worker advocacy organizations to find successful ways to get your rights to decent pay and safer working conditions.” If that’s not a plug for union organizing, then what is? A similar concern applies to Make the Road New York: The grant’s purpose might have been safety training, but that training happened in the context of a broader organizing campaign in the car-wash industry. Money is fungible, so who’s drawing the line between worker safety training and worker organizing? This brings up another problem: Should American taxpayers foot the bill to support, even indirectly, union organizing efforts? 

    The House Appropriations Committee in the 114th Congress concluded that the Harwood grant program is “inefficient and ineffective in achieving its intended purpose.” If the program doesn’t work as intended  then why are taxpayers funding it?

    Categories: DOLSEIUUAW