New York Union Boss Arrested, Kickbacks Exceed $700K

New York Union Boss Arrested, Kickbacks Exceed $700K

United States attorney Loretta E. Lynch:   Hector Lopez turned the union members’ benefits fund into “a personal piggy bank, lining his pockets with the fruits of their labors.” The former boss of an International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) union local in Long Island City, Queens, was arrested on Tuesday and accused of abusing his position through a host of illegal schemes, including taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a company he contracted to run the union’s health benefits plan, the New York Times reports: Hector Lopez, the former president of Local 8a-28a, which represents metal polishers, sign painters and other tradespeople, set up an elaborate money-laundering operation involving several companies that funneled secret payments to him, according to a 29-page indictment that was unsealed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. In the most serious kickback scheme, Mr. Lopez, 54, is accused of accepting $740,000 over a seven-year period in exchange for guaranteeing one company the contract to administer the union’s benefits fund. The indictment did not name Mr. Lopez’s alleged accomplices or the names of the companies involved.

Battleground Michigan

Battleground Michigan

Shikha Dalmia of Reason looks at big labor's effort keep Michigan a second rate economic state through a series of referendums on the statewide ballot next month: We've seen Gov. Scott Walker's battle in Wisconsin and the Chicago Teachers Union strike next door. Now in Michigan comes another Midwestern political showdown that will carry enormous implications for the role of unions in American life. [media-credit name=" " align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]The Michigan Supreme Court recently approved the placement of a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. If passed by voters, the so-called Protect Our Jobs amendment would give public-employee unions a potent new tool to challenge any laws—past, present or future—that limit their benefits or collective-bargaining powers. It would also bar Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state in which mandatory union dues are not a condition of employment. The budget implications are dire. Michigan public unions began pushing the initiative last year, shortly after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder—facing a $2 billion fiscal hole—capped public spending on public-employee health benefits at 80% of total costs. This spring, national labor unions joined the amendment effort after failing to prevent Indiana from becoming a right-to-work state. Bob King of the United Auto Workers said that Michigan's initiative would "send a message" to other states tempted to follow Indiana's example. The UAW, along with allies in the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters, poured $8 million into gathering 554,000 signatures—some 200,000 more than needed—to put Protect Our Jobs on the Michigan ballot.

DNC on Hook (Literally) to SEIU

DNC on Hook (Literally) to SEIU

[media-credit name=" " align="alignright" width="218"][/media-credit]The Free Beacon has discovered that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) owes at least $8 million to a bank owned by one of the largest unions in the country, according to the committee’s most recent financial report. The DNC initiated an $8 million loan with the Amalgamated Bank of New York on Aug. 10, the report shows, accounting for the majority of the committee’s overall debt of $11 million. Amalgamated Bank, often described as “America’s Labor Bank,” is a national entity, the majority of which is owned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a politically active union with deep ties to the Democratic Party. The SEIU is also involved with the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy group of wealthy left-wing donors founded by billionaire investor George Soros. The bank announced in an August press release that the DNC had “moved its primary banking relationship” to Amalgamated Bank, which would handle the committee’s “day-to-day banking needs.” The DNC had previously done most of its banking with Bank of America, which helped finance the Democratic convention in Charlotte. DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz hailed the transition to Amalgamated Bank, and noted the longstanding political and financial ties between the two organizations.