Embezzlement Plagues Union Offices Around U.S. 

Since 2018, roughly a dozen UAW union bosses have pleaded guilty to taking bribes from vendors and/or misappropriating union treasury money. And last November, yet another UAW kingpin was charged with embezzlement. (Credit: Branco)

Right to Work Bill Would Help Workers Hold Big Labor Accountable

No employee who is subject to union monopoly bargaining anywhere in America, and who is also bankrolling the union, should feel comfortable in assuming his or her dues money is in good hands.

To understand why, all you have to do is spend a few minutes perusing the “Criminal Enforcement” section of the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) website.

According to records that were still incomplete when this Newsletter edition went to press in early January, the OLMS reported a total of 292 separate criminal-enforcement actions last year.

These reports address indictments, charges, convictions, and other criminal-enforcement actions related to alleged and proven illegal activity by union officials and their hired hands.

Victims Are Nurses, Engineers, Bricklayers, Teachers, Film And TV Artists, Musicians . . .

Here are just a few examples from late last year of appalling union-boss crimes against the rank-and-file documented by the OLMS:

* * * On December 2, Verdine Day, the former treasurer of Michigan-based Local 344 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF/AFL-CIO), pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling $220,044 from dues-paying firemen and other union members. According to the Detroit News, the fraud perpetrated by Ms. Day lasted from 2015 until her retirement in 2019. She spent the loot on flights, cruises, hotels, and restaurant dinners, as well as to cover her personal cellphone and cable TV bills.

* * * On November 15, a federal jury found that Pennsylvania union kingpin John Dougherty, commonly referred to as “Johnny Doc,” had for years furnished bribes to Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon. In exchange for a salary, benefits, and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of sporting event tickets, Mr. Henon abused the powers of his office to serve as Johnny Doc’s political errand boy. Johnny Doc was found guilty on eight counts of conspiracy and honest services fraud. Mr. Henon was found guilty on 10 counts of conspiracy, honest services fraud, and bribery.

* * * On October 14, Roderick Bennett, the former chief of staff for the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), was sentenced to 24 months in prison and 12 months of supervised probation, and ordered to pay $155,638 in restitution, after pleading guilty to embezzlement from a labor organization. Prior to his sentencing, Mr. Bennett had furnished to law enforcement and the public LIUNA credit-card statements apparently showing it is common practice for the union’s officers and staff to cover personal expenses, including lavish steak-house dinners and international travel, with this card.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented: 

“In 2017, after reporting for several months on a then relatively new scandal involving the misappropriation of millions of dollars meant for worker training by crooked union bosses and auto-company executives, the Detroit Free Press decided to investigate just how widespread Big Labor corruption is.

“The following January, the Free Press shared with its readers its finding that embezzlement occurs at union offices across the U.S.

“The Free Press expose, authored by award-winning veteran journalist Phoebe Wall Howard, noted that union theft happens ‘in big cities and tiny towns in all corners of the country.’

“The victims,” Mr. Mourad continued, “include ‘nurses, aerospace engineers, firefighters, teachers, film and TV artists, air traffic controllers, musicians, bus inspectors, bakery workers, roofers, postal workers, machinists, ironworkers, steelworkers, dairy workers, plasterers, train operators, plumbers, stagehands, engineers, heat insulators, missile range workers, and bricklayers.’” 

Union Boss Allegedly Drained Roughly $2 Million From UAW Union Local’s Bank Account

“Over the past four years,” added Mr. Mourad, “the evidence that a number of national unions and Organized Labor generally have an entrenched culture of corruption has continued to mount.”

Unfortunately, even the 292 criminal-enforcement actions currently reported on the OLMS website for 2021 alone do not furnish a comprehensive view of just how widespread investigations, arrests, guilty pleas and convictions of local and national union bosses are. 

The OLMS website does not currently mention, for example, the November 10, 2021 surrender to federal authorities of Tim Edmunds, formerly the financial secretary/treasurer of Warren, Mich.-based Local 412 of the United Auto Workers (UAW/AFL-CIO) union.

It has long been clear that the UAW is a crooked union.

Just since 2018, roughly a dozen national UAW bosses, including two former presidents and two former vice presidents, have pleaded guilty to taking bribes from vendors and/or stealing union treasury money to buy vacation time at private villas, expensive restaurant meals, cigars, liquor, and much more.

Mr. Edmunds, the latest UAW officer to be charged in connection with an ongoing federal investigation of the union, is accused of “systematically draining” Local 412’s bank account of roughly $2 million.

Monopolistic Unionism Is the Real Problem

As the Detroit News reported on November 16, 2021, Mr. Edmunds allegedly spent the loot to bankroll “high-end shopping sprees at Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Apple,” as well as to finance “child support payments and Greektown Casino gambling binges.”

Prosecutors also say Mr. Edmunds spent large sums of money to buy five vehicles in recent years, including “a 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that cost $96,419.”

The FBI originally tried to arrest Mr. Edmunds at his home in South Lyon, Mich., on November 4, but he allegedly disappeared and evaded capture for nearly a week as a team of 30 federal agents searched for him.

Mr. Mourad commented:

“When honest, hard working Americans read about the escapades of shady union bosses like Tim Edmunds, they may well ask themselves why such individuals opt so frequently to become union officials.

“Government-authorized monopoly bargaining, which makes private-sector employees in all 50 states almost completely dependent on union officials for their job security and pay increases, is one of the two principal reasons why unscrupulous people are especially drawn to careers as Big Labor bosses.”

National Right to Work Act Would Bar Forced Union Dues and Fees Nationwide

Pennsylvania union bigwig John Dougherty was recently found guilty of bribing a city councilman. (Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro File Photo)

“Compulsory union dues and fees as an employment condition are the second key source of union corruption,” continued Mr. Mourad.

“Federal labor law promotes both monopoly bargaining and compulsory financial support for Big Labor. 

“Without them, corruption would probably be no more common in labor unions than it is in other kinds of private organizations.

“It is the National Right to Work Committee’s longstanding objective to eliminate both of the pillars of monopolistic unionism.

“And strategically, Right to Work officers and members recognize that revocation of the provisions in federal law that authorize the firing of employees for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union will pave the way for elimination of Big Labor bosses’ monopoly-bargaining privileges.”

This winter, the Committee is fighting to secure roll-call floor votes on S.406 and H.R.1275, otherwise known as the National Right to Work Act.

Once this legislation is enacted, no employees covered by federal labor statutes will face job loss as a consequence of their decision to refuse to pay dues or fees to a union they would never join voluntarily.

“Passage of the National Right to Work Act would strike a powerful blow against Big Labor corruption by empowering the individual employee to cut off all dues payments completely as soon as he or she has reason to suspect union treasury and/or benefit funds aren’t being spent properly,” explained Mr. Mourad.

“While it is not in itself a total solution, this legislation would go a long way in helping American employees hold Big Labor accountable for how their dues money is spent.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.
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