The former head of one of the nation’s largest union locals was indicted Tuesday on charges of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the Los Angeles-based labor organization.
Tyrone R. Freeman, 42, is charged with four counts of mail fraud, seven counts of embezzlement and/or theft of labor union assets, one count of making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution and three counts of submitting a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Freeman was president of Service Employees International Union Local 6434, representing about 180,000 low-wage workers who provide in-home healthcare services, until 2008.
TULSA, Okla. — A “ghost” ad campaign urging American Airlines mechanics and stores groups to reject a labor agreement is misleading and doesn’t reflect the sentiment of many workers at the bankrupt airline’s Tulsa hub, local union representatives said Friday.
A half-page advertisement featured in Friday’s local newspaper urged workers: “Vote No Save Our Profession.” It’s not clear who is behind the ad, which listed several reasons why the bankrupt air carrier’s final, best labor offer is no good, including lack of job security, frozen pensions and slashed vacation time.
The union that represents thousands of pharmacy workers across Southern California will vote this week on authorizing its leaders to call a strike against Rite Aid, a spokesman said.
Members of Local 1167 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents most Inland Southern California Rite Aid workers, will vote on Thursday and Friday, said Joe Duffle, an organizer for the local. The vote does not necessary mean a strike is likely. A strike authorization vote is used to put pressure on company negotiators.
“We haven’t gotten nearly as far as we’d like to have in negotiations,” Duffle said.
Workers at the Caterpillar factory in South Milwaukee are closely watching a labor dispute at the company plant in Illinois. Caterpillar employees in Joliet have been on strike for three months. The company is seeking steep wage and pension concessions, and the union representing nearly 800 workers refuses to accept the demands. WUWM’s Erin Toner reports on speculation that the outcome of the dispute could be a bellwether for labor relations across the country.
Caterpillar is the global leader in producing earth-moving equipment, such as mining machines and skid loaders. The company is reportedly seeking a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for workers in Joliet. Caterpillar would not comment for this story. But on its website, the company says workers in Joliet are paid well above market wages, making the facility uncompetitive.
Days before a hearing in late May over two disputed jobs at the Port of Portland’s container terminal, Elvis Ganda said he sat down for a meeting with a longshore union official at Stanford’s Restaurant at the Portland International Airport.
Ganda, chief executive for terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc., said he told union coast committeeman Leal “Leo” Sundet he couldn’t support the longshoremen’s claim to the jobs plugging and unplugging refrigerated containers, called reefers. His company’s contract with the Port, he said, required the work to go to members of the electricians union.
CANTON – Michael Carter hardly evokes the Hollywood image of a podium-pounding, fire-breathing labor agitator. With his dark blue “New York” cap, light blue knit shirt, slender build and soft-spoken voice, he looks like what he is: a 38-year-old working man, husband and father of two.
He’s sitting in the United Auto Workers’ newly opened office just off Nissan Parkway and within view of the 3.5 million square-foot Nissan plant. On the wall behind him is a framed, black-and-white photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. Prominent among the crowd of men close to King is Walter Reuther, the legendary labor leader who helped found the modern-day UAW, a man Barry Goldwater once denounced as a “dangerous menace” and arch-conservative Clarion-Ledger columnist Tom Ethridge blasted in 1964 as “top labor-fuehrer.”
Even with a friendly administration in the White House that aggressively bailed out the United Auto Workers, labor unions have had a rough go of late. Private-sector union membership continues to dwindle, as unionized companies — weighed down by unsustainable pay and benefits — lose out in the marketplace to their nonunionized peers.
Public-sector unions have fared less badly in terms of membership, but budget constraints have forced states like Indiana, Wisconsin and Rhode Island to institute necessary reforms to benefits and pensions. (And states that have resisted such reforms — especially California — have seen their fiscal situations deteriorate.)
Pilots at United Continental Holdings on Tuesday voted to authorize a strike, showing their growing frustration after failing to agree on a contract after two years of talks with management.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots who flew for what were United and Continental Airlines before the two merged in 2010, said 99 percent of the voters supported a withdrawal of services, if required.
Still, the vote makes a work stoppage far from certain. Federal law makes it difficult for airline unions to strike, and the White House can intervene to stop any walkout in the interest of keeping U.S. commerce going.
SACRAMENTO — Corporate and public pension funds across the country are seriously underfunded, threatening the retirement security of workers and straining the financial health of state and local governments, according to a pair of independent studies.
In 2011, company pensions and related benefits were underfunded by an estimated $578 billion, meaning they only had 70.5% of the money needed to meet retirement obligations, according to a report by S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Funds generally don’t need to have all the money needed pay future pensions because returns on investments vary over the years and people retire at different ages and with different levels of benefits, experts said. But a funding level in the 70% zone is considered dangerously low.
Organized labor is in free fall. The number of workers who belong to a union has plummeted about 20 percent over the last decade. Only 8 percent of all workers are unionized. And leading labor activists are wringing their hands over the seemingly inevitable death of a movement unable to cope with technological change.
“I see no reason to believe that American trade unionism will so revolutionize itself within a short period of time as to become in the next decade a more potent social force than it has been in the past decade,” warns one of the nation’s foremost economists.
The description sounds like the labor movement today. But the statistics are from 1930. George E. Barnett, president of the American Economic Association, issued the warning at the depth of the Great Depression in 1932.