Workers Compelled to Fund Union Whose Dons FBI Is Investigating
As this Newsletter edition goes to press, three former high-ranking officers of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have recently been indicted for allegedly participating in a years-long scheme to pilfer millions of dollars from a worker training center funded by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
One of these ex-union bosses has already pleaded guilty. And media reports indicate multiple additional former and current UAW bosses are currently under investigation by the FBI for misappropriation of training center funds.
Among those publicly reported to be objects of FBI “interest” are current General Motors-UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who is running for reelection this year, and former GM-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton.
Auto Executive Confesses to Shoveling Money Into Dubious Union Boss-Run ‘Charities’
According to federal prosecutors, starting in 2009, then-FCA head of labor relations Al Iacobelli and then-UAW Vice President General Holiefield began using training center funds as their personal piggy bank.
Mr. Holiefield (who passed away in 2015) allegedly pilfered a total of $1.2 million from the UAW-Chrysler training center. Since the center is a tax-exempt charity, taxpayers, as well as workers, were victims of the scam.
In August 2017, former UAW Associate Director Virdell King admitted to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA).
Ms. King, who had been accused of stealing more than $40,000 in worker training funds, is expected to be sentenced soon to up to 16 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $16,000.
Early this year, Mr. Iacobelli entered a guilty plea, admitting that he and other FCA executives had transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to shadowy personal “charities” controlled by UAW officials.
At the end of February, Automotive News reported that so-called “charities” linked to at least seven former and current UAW bosses, including Ms. Estrada, current President Dennis Williams, and current Ford-UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, are an “area of interest” for federal prosecutors.
On March 13, a second former UAW boss who had previously wielded monopoly control over FCA production employees was indicted for violating the LMRA.
Keith Mickens, who once was the late Mr. Holiefield’s administrative assistant, is accused of “buying designer clothes, luggage, and golf equipment with money that was supposed to help train rank-and-file autoworkers,” according to a report appearing in the Detroit Free Press.
As Scandal Unfolds, Workers Are Forced by Federal Law To Keep Paying Dues to UAW
Just a couple of weeks before this Newsletter edition went to press in early April, Nancy Johnson, the onetime second highest ranking official in the UAW’s Chrysler Department, was indicted for allegedly using training center funds for her personal benefit.
As the Free Press reported, Ms. Johnson is accused, for example, “of pampering herself and associates with $6900 steak dinners and first-class airline tickets with money that was meant for autoworkers.”
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix said: “Forced unionism is an important and underreported aspect of the widening scandal implicating UAW bosses and executives of Big Labor-impaired auto companies.
“Under Section 9(a) of the Taft-Hartley Act and under similar provisions of other federal labor laws, Big Labor bosses wield the power to force individual employees, whether they want a union or not, to accept it as their monopoly-bargaining agent.
“And as a consequence of a handful of other special-interest provisions in federal labor law, thousands of production employees in auto assembly plants located in Illinois and Ohio, two states that still lack Right to Work laws, continue to be forced to pay union dues or fees to the tainted UAW.
“If they refuse, they can be fired.
“On the other hand, FCA, GM and Ford employees in Right to Work states like Michigan, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana are free to protest allegedly rampant union corruption by resigning from the UAW and cutting off all financial support for it, without having to lose their jobs.”
Mr. Mix added that, among the 28 states that have enacted Right to Work laws, Missouri is the only one where auto assembly workers are still being forced to pay union dues or fees to the UAW, whose bosses are being investigated by the FBI for embezzlement.
Missouri Is ‘Different From the Other States That Have Adopted Right to Work Laws’
He explained: “Missouri is different from other states that have enacted Right to Work laws.
“Big Labor has been able to use a quirk in the Missouri legal code to block implementation of a 15 month-old Right to Work statute by gathering petitions from roughly one-sixth as many citizens as those voting for the state’s unabashedly pro-Right to Work governor in 2016.
“The union bosses’ petition drive also put on a statewide ballot a measure that will, if all goes according to union strategists’ plan, permanently wipe Missouri’s Right to Work law off the books.
“A Big Labor win in Missouri would mean that employees who suspect union bosses are misappropriating funds will continue to be prevented from fighting back by refusing to pay any union dues or fees.”
Auto union officials who are now personally being investigated or whose “charities” are being investigated by the FBI are far from the only unsavory Big Labor figures who are benefiting from the barricade against Right to Work in Missouri.
Since August 2016, St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Al Bond and every other member of the STLKCCRC union have been defendants in a state civil case filed by Jonathan Gould, a floor layer and a former compliance officer for the council.
The lawsuit charges that Missouri carpenters union kingpins have for years been “embezzling money from members to inflate their own pensions and cash in on travel perks for spouses.”
And according to an April 2017 exposé appearing in the Kansas City Star, in 2016 International Brotherhood of Boilermakers union President Newton Jones and his wife, brother and son raked in a total of roughly $1.6 million in forced dues-funded IBB salaries and “reimbursements.”
Meanwhile, jobs for rank-and-file IBB-“represented” workers were disappearing.
“Compulsory union dues and fees help Big Labor bosses run their organizations for their own benefit, at workers’ expense,” said Mr. Mix.
“It will be a shame if the massive Big Labor propaganda blitz now underway in the Show-Me State succeeds in enabling allegedly ethically challenged union bosses like Cindy Estrada, Al Bond, and Newton Jones to continue forcing Missouri workers to pay their unmerited salaries.”
Mr. Mix vowed that Committee leaders and members would do everything reasonably possible to help Missouri citizens get back their Right to Work.