Union In The News – Weekly Highlights

Bill limiting campaign money to tax board amended to call for study
By Patrick McGreevy, August 9, 2016, Los Angeles Times
Faced with strong opposition from a member of the Board of Equalization, state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has for a second time amended a bill that would have imposed tough new campaign contribution limits on board members to avoid conflicts of interest. The new bill simply calls for a study of possible new limits. Hill introduced SB 816 after The Times reported that donors were circumventing a $250 contribution limit to board members by funneling the money through political action committees or giving several donations — 45 from employees at one tax firm — of $249 each. Hill’s bill originally would have prohibited any contributions from firms and individuals with business before the board. (read article)

Former Union President admits to embezzling nearly $300,000 from local he ran.
By Associated Press, August 9, 2016, MyStateLine.com
A Rockford man has pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling nearly $300,000 from the union of which he was President, Local 6 of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. In a written plea agreement, 49-year-old David Fleury admitted to committing the thefts over a four-year period up until May, 2015. Fleury as President was in charge of running daily operations, and was able to process an additional 153 salary checks and electronic deposits totaling $284,286 to be paid to him. Prosecutors say that in the plea agreement, Fleury admitted he used the embezzled funds to pay for personal expenses, for gambling at casinos, and for vacations. (read article)

Grand Jury Investigating Powerful, Clinton-Supporting Union for Allegedly Threatening Foes
By Jillian Kay Melchior, August 8, 2016, Heat Street
Pennsylvania’s attorney general is investigating whether Philadelphia’s most powerful union, a prominent backer of Hillary Clinton, has engaged in threats and intimidation against its foes. As the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, the allegations of Local 98 intimidation and threats are hardly new. As of 2013, the Center for Union Facts had tallied multiple complaints filed against Philadelphia electricians’ union members, including allegations of “coercive statements,” “harassment,” “threatening statements” and “violence/assault.” And as early as the 1990s, the National Labor Relations Board said the union’s leaders were “masters when it comes to unlawful… conduct, intimidation, and coercion.” (read article)

CPS proposes $5.4 billion budget, teacher pact similar to earlier submission
By Juan Perez Jr. & Marian Renault, August 8, 2016, Chicago Tribune
Chicago Public Schools on Monday unveiled a $5.4 billion operating budget proposal that assumes the Chicago Teachers Union will accept a contract similar to one a CTU bargaining team soundly rejected earlier this year. CTU President Karen Lewis was quick to say the district is wrong to think her union will come around on the contract offer from January. (read article)

FBI raids IBEW union hall, labor leader John Dougherty’s home
By Daniel Craig, August 5, 2016, Philly Voice
Federal authorities on Friday morning descended on multiple locations in Philadelphia, including the offices of IBEW Local 98 and the home of labor leader John Dougherty. The FBI said agents were at the electricians union hall at 17th and Spring Garden streets in Spring Garden for an “ongoing investigation.” Federal agents searched Dougherty’s home in November 2006 as a part of a tax-fraud investigation into electrical contractor Donald “Gus” Dougherty, a longtime friend who is of no relation to the union leader. Gus Dougherty later pleaded guilty to 99 charges, including doing $115,600 of electrical work on Johnny Doc’s home for free. (read article)

Grocery strike averted: Workers reach tentative deal with Ralphs and Albertsons
By Shan Li, August 4, 2016, Los Angeles Times
Southern California grocery workers have reached a tentative labor agreement with the Ralphs and Albertsons chains. The move averts the immediate threat of a strike that could have roiled some of the region’s largest supermarket chains. Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra Doyel said the company had proposed pay increases and changes to its pension and healthcare plans. She did not provide specifics on the deal. (read article)

Proposed labor contracts come with pay increases but total cost is a mystery
By Jan Murphy, August 4, 2016, PennLive.com
The proposed contracts that Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has reached with the two largest state employee unions include more generous pay increases than the ones they received in their last four-year contracts. What the proposed raises for the approximate 41,000 employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13 and Service Employees International Union Local 668 will cost taxpayers remains a mystery for now. The tentative three-year agreements call for a total of five general or step increases that add up to 11.75 percent. (read article)

Nurses Union Has a Cure for Big Labor’s Disconnect from Membership
By Connor D. Wolf, August 4, 2016, InsideSources
The president of a major nurses union detailed Wednesday how having volunteer leaders has helped avoid the problem of becoming disconnected from membership. National Nurses United (NNU) is unique from other national unions in that everyone in a leadership position is a volunteer that works in the medical industry. The unions leaders say they know what their members need because they work alongside them and face the same problems. Labor unions elsewhere often become disconnected from the needs of their members, they say. (read article)

New Jersey lawmaker seeks probe of union contribution threat
By Hilary Russ, August 3, 2016, Reuters
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the state’s top elected Democrat, on Wednesday asked state and federal prosecutors to investigate alleged threats by a labor union that he said amounted to bribery and attempts to corrupt public officials. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) threatened to withhold campaign contributions until Sweeney and other lawmakers passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would boost the state’s public pensions, Sweeney said. “These threats clearly cross the line from lobbying to attempted bribery and conspiracy,” he said. (read article)

Portman gets support from another labor union
By Associated Press, August 3, 2016, Dayton Daily News
Republican Sen. Rob Portman won the support of another Ohio labor union Wednesday, fueling GOP optimism about hanging onto the swing-state seat and Senate control in November. The union endorsement also added to Democrats’ concerns about their candidate, former Gov. Ted Strickland. The endorsement from Local 18 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which backed Strickland for governor in 2006, comes after Portman also announced support from branches of the Teamsters and the Mine Workers, which also switched their allegiance from Strickland. (read article)

San Bernardino County sheriff’s labor union ratifies county contracts
By Joe Nelson, August 2, 2016, San Bernadino County Sun
After more than 18 months of hard-fought negotiating, the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, the union representing sheriff’s deputies and other public safety officials, has entered into two labor contracts with the county. On Tuesday, SEBA announced it ratified two contracts for the ranks of deputy through lieutenant. The new contracts call for, among other things, a three percent raise annually for the next three years, higher starting pay for deputies, an increase in an annual uniform allowance of $1,200, and medical premium subsidy increases. (read article)

Preserving the right to work
By Trey Kovacs & Tyler Kovacs, August 2, 2016, Washington Times
Labor unions are aggressively filing lawsuits against right-to-work laws across the nation. Currently, in Idaho, Indiana, Wisconsin and West Virginia, organized labor is challenging workers’ right to choose whether or not to pay union dues as a condition of employment without risk of penalty. With the untimely death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, some fear right-to-work laws now in effect in 26 states are just one Democratic appointee away from extinction. Right-to-work laws free workers from forced union dues, so losing those rights would be a devastating blow to worker freedom. (read article)

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