Sticky Fingers and Bad Actors: Union Misconduct in 2024

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Corruption, Courts, DOL, IBT, Labor Relations Ink, Labor Relations Insight, Leadership, Legal, Union Leaders, Unions

It’s been more than a minute since we did any kind of an update about union corruption and misconduct by labor union officials, so let’s jump right in with a look at what has been going on in 2024.

It’s been a busy couple of months jam-packed with the usual stuff you would expect from organizations wanting to represent you in the workplace:  wire fraud, tax evasion, falsification of records, altercations, and retaliation against members.

The Muriel Newman Incident: The conviction of Muriel Newman, formerly at the helm of AFGE Local 2779, for nine counts of wire fraud and falsification of records in January 2024 shines a spotlight on the grim potential for union leaders to betray the trust of their members.

The LEEBA Leadership’s Downfall: The case against Kenneth Wynder Jr., former President of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association (LEEBA), sentenced to 40 months in prison in January 2024 for a slew of charges including wire fraud and tax evasion, epitomizes the egregious betrayal of member trust. Such instances vividly illustrate the risks inherent in entrusting one’s dues contributions to organizations where accountability may be compromised by individuals with ulterior motives. Wynder was ordered to pay $838,683 in restitution, $529,000 in forfeiture, and a $700 special assessment. Additionally, Andrew Brown, former Benefits Coordinator for LEEBA, was ordered to pay $529,000 in restitution, $3,049 in forfeiture, and a $200 special assessment.

Randal Dunlap’s Misappropriation: The indictment of Randal Dunlap for embezzling around $86,000 from the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1018’s coffers in January 2024 underscores a blatant disregard for the financial contributions of union members. Dunlap’s alleged actions represent a direct theft not just from the union but from the pockets of its members, further fueling skepticism towards the ethical management of union dues.

Questionable Union Practices: Beyond individual acts of corruption, systemic issues such as the illegal dues deduction scheme contested by Brunilda Vargas against UAW Local 5502 spotlight the broader problem of unions not always acting in the best interest of their constituents.

Internal Conflicts and Power Misuse: Altercations such as the one involving Joe Duffle of UFCW Local 1167 and retaliation claims, such as the one filed by John Cwiek against Teamsters Local 63, expose the internal strife and power dynamics that can compromise union integrity. These disputes not only detract from the union’s primary mission but also reveal a concerning potential for leadership to prioritize personal agendas over worker welfare.

The Teamsters’ Discrimination Settlement: The $2.9 million settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against the Teamsters, alleging wrongful termination based on race, further complicates the narrative on union trustworthiness. Such incidents suggest that issues of fairness and justice within unions extend beyond financial mismanagement to encompass broader ethical failings.

These cases collectively paint a disturbing portrait of certain unions as entities where corruption and retaliation can flourish, unchecked by the very principles they supposedly uphold. They also offer insight into why employees should think twice before committing a portion of their hard-earned wages to organizations that are all too often tainted by corruption and bad conduct.

 

 

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