FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2018
CONTACT: Ryan Williams
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Hold Unions Accountable For Stealing Worker Dues
March 21, 2018
Recent months have seen a slew of headlines in union corruption cases all over the country. Labor bosses have been accused or pleaded guilty to embezzling union dues from hardworking rank-and-file members in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia, just to name a few.
This criminal activity highlights the need for the U.S. Department of Labor to step up enforcement and increase financial transparency within unions via stronger disclosure. That is the only way to put a stop to the rampant thievery — and no, that’s not too strong of a word.
In January, Richard D’Antuono pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $320,000 from the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association Local 40 in Rhode Island when serving as the union’s business manager and financial secretary.
In February, Stephanie Marie DeBoer, an administrator at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 876 in Michigan, was sentenced for embezzling more than $300,000 in union funds. Some of the embezzled money was used to buy Katy Perry tickets and undergarments. A Virginia woman named Tamika Bullock, a former official at the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 684, was sentenced for embezzling $24,000 in union funds, some of which she used to go on a cruise.
Those are just a handful of the examples from this year, and it’s still only March.
Last October, a Connecticut man named Andrew Thibodeau, who served as treasurer of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1433, was sentenced for embezzling more than $70,000 in union funds. And in December in Massachusetts, the former secretary-treasurer of the Unite Here Local 26 pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $170,000 in union funds.
Then there are the bigger cases. The Detroit Free Press detailed more than a half dozen union embezzlement cases involving the theft of more than one million dollars over the past decade, during which time documents “show embezzlement from hundreds of union offices nationwide.” Moreover, over the course of “just the past two years, more than 300 union locations have discovered theft.”
This is widespread, epidemic theft. Fortunately, we have the necessary solutions to address massive union dues embezzlement. The Trump administration should roll back the cuts made by the Obama administration to the Office of Labor Management Standards, which is charged with investigating union corruption. By gutting the OLMS, Obama made it difficult for investigators to identify union embezzlement. Now, we are seeing the results of that neglect.
The Trump administration made a good first effort in its fiscal year 2019 budget, which takes steps to restore the OLMS’ “investigative workforce” and “strengthen protections for union members by supporting more audits and investigations to uncover flawed officer elections, fraud, and embezzlement.”
The Department of Labor should also revise financial disclosure requirements. In 2003, George W. Bush’s Labor Department gave some teeth to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act by requiring unions to disclose total benefits received by union employees and officers, and provide itemized receipts for union expenses. The Obama Labor Department reversed this. Trump’s should reinstate it, along with the requirement that unions file a Trust Annual Report disclosure form (better known as T-1).
Such changes would significantly increase financial transparency at both local and national unions, especially when coupled with increased resources and renewed focus on fighting union corruption with the OLMS. These are good, commonsense reforms that people can get behind.
Almost all other kinds of organizations in the United States, including corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits, are required to disclose such information. With such widespread embezzlement of worker dues, we can see what a mistake it was to allow unions to operate in the dark. Now is the time for transparency, enforcement, and holding union bosses accountable for their actions.
Heather Greenaway is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute.
To access the op-ed, click here.
The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace. To learn more, please visit: http://www.workforcefairness.com.
To schedule an interview with a Workforce Fairness Institute representative, please contact Ryan Williams at (202) 677-7060.