‘Embezzlement Plagues Union Offices’ Around U.S.

According to federal prosecutors, Pittsburgh union boss Ray Ventrone used workers’ forced dues to buy gym and nautilus equipment, sport tickets and multi-thousand-dollar restaurant meals. He ultimately copped to stealing $1.5 million.

Obama Administration Slashed Funding For Corruption Watchdogs

After reporting for several months on a still-unfolding scandal that involves the alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars meant for worker training by crooked union bosses and auto-company executives, the Detroit Free Press recently decided to investigate just how widespread Big Labor corruption is.

On January 7, the Free Press shared with its readers its finding that, as the report’s headline put it, “embezzlement plagues union offices around the country.”

U.S. Labor Department documents reviewed by the publication showed that theft has been uncovered in “more than 300 union locations” nationwide just since the beginning of 2016.

Victims Are Nurses, Engineers, Firefighters, Teachers, Film And TV Artists, Musicians …

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented:

“The Free Press exposé of Big Labor corruption, written by award-winning veteran journalist Phoebe Wall Howard, shows why no employee subject to union monopoly bargaining anywhere in America should feel comfortable assuming his or her dues money is in good hands.

“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, electricians, heat insulators, missile range workers and bricklayers.’”

Examples of union officials found guilty of or pleading guilty to financial crimes cited by the Free Press include former Laborers Local 657 Business Manager Anthony Frederick. In February 2017, this D.C. union honcho was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzlement and ordered to pay $1.632 million in restitution.

Another culprit mentioned was Ray Ventrone, formerly the business manager for Pittsburgh-based Local 154 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. Last September, he pleaded guilty to embezzling roughly $1.5 million, plus tax evasion.

Additional Audits Would Almost Certainly Uncover Far More Widespread Theft

Still others are Allied Novelty and Production Workers union don Johnnie Miranti and Teamster chief Louis Smith, both of New York City. In August 2016, they pleaded guilty to soliciting and receiving kickbacks “to influence the operation of an employee benefit plan and commit theft of $1 million.”

Mr. Mourad commented that, as shocking as the Free Press article undoubtedly was to many readers, it almost certainly grossly understated the actual amount of corruption in Organized Labor in contemporary America.

He explained: “This report relied exclusively on cases of corruption uncovered by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards [OLMS]. And during the 10-year period ending in 2016, the OLMS staff shrank by 44%, even as other Labor Department divisions expanded.

“Acting at its Big Labor allies’ behest, the Obama Administration slashed OLMS funding, even though OLMS audits have an excellent track record of uncovering crimes.

“In 2016, for example, nearly 20% of OLMS audits of labor unions led to criminal investigations. By comparison, in Fiscal Year 2014 the IRS audited almost 1.4 million tax returns, but just 0.3% of these audits resulted in a criminal probe.”

Monopolistic Unionism Is the Real Problem

“Increasing the OLMS staff and the number of audits substantially would undoubtedly help curtail rampant Big Labor corruption to some degree, and Congress and President Trump ought to do that in the coming fiscal year,” Mr. Mourad continued.

“But government-authorized mono- poly bargaining, which makes employees almost completely dependent on union officials for their job security and pay increases, and forced union dues are the main sources of union corruption.

“Monopolistic unionism is a clas-sic example of the state-sanctioned compulsion in which, to borrow the words of 19th Century British philosopher Auberon Herbert, the individual employee who opposes a union boss is ‘made to serve his ends, if he can get enough power to force these ends upon him.’

“Dr. Herbert continued: ‘Is it wonderful then,’ that in such a garden ‘you will rarely find flowers that are fragrant, and fruits that are clean and wholesome?’”

(Click here to download the March 2018 National Right to Work Newsletter)