Category Archives: Labor Relations

Union and labor relations news.

Obama Pick For NLRB Was Top Lawyer For Union Tainted By Mob Ties, History Of Corruption.

The rap sheet for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers reads like something out of “Goodfellas.”

Embezzlement. Wire fraud. Bribery. That’s just scratching the surface of crimes committed by the IUOE ranks. And it is from this union that President Obama earlier this year picked one of his latest appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency tasked with resolving labor disputes between unions and management.

That recess appointee, Richard Griffin, was former general counsel for the 400,000-member union of heavy equipment operators — a union tainted over the years by mob connections and a history of corruption.

Public documents obtained by Fox News show that more than 60 IUOE members have been arrested, indicted or jailed in the last decade on charges that include labor racketeering, extortion, criminal enterprise, bodily harm and workplace sabotage.

In some of the more egregious examples, federal prosecutors alleged in February 2003 that the Genovese and Colombo crime families wrested control of two IUOE locals, and stole $3.6 million from major New York area construction projects — including the Museum of Modern Art and minor league baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets in Staten and Coney Islands.

Congress and the American public may never know whether Griffin’s fiduciary responsibilities as general counsel were compromised by the avalanche of arrests, indictments and prosecutions of IUOE members. Griffin did not respond to Fox News’ request for an interview. Before joining the NLRB, he served in various positions at the IUOE dating back to 1983.

But records indicate he did not take an active role in representing any of the accused union members in criminal matters while he was general counsel for the union.

In at least one case during Griffin’s tenure, the IUOE national headquarters placed a local that had run afoul of the law into trusteeship. But it remains unclear what other firewalls, if any, Griffin erected to separate the national union from its corrupt locals, or how he dealt with individual local union members who were in legal trouble.

On April 9, 2008, a dozen high-ranking members of an IUOE local in Buffalo, N.Y., were arrested for damaging more than 40 pieces of heavy machinery at construction sites where non-union workers were hired. They poured sand into oil systems, and cut tires and fuel lines. They also ran the license plate numbers of victims through a state database to get personal information including  the names and addresses of victims’ wives.

Among the individual union members and associates prosecuted in various investigations were:  Read more here.

NLRB Allows Micro Organizing.

Shoe sales staff at Bergdorf Goodman, one of the tiniest department stores in the world, will be allowed to vote on union membership.

The federal body that interprets labor law has ruled that a specific portion of a workplace can vote on joining a union, independent of its co-workers in other parts of the building or the company.

The decision grew out of a labor discussion from, of all places, Bergdorf Goodman, one of New York City’s upper-crust department stores. The National Labor Relations Board several weeks ago ruled that the Fifth Avenue retailer’s shoe department workers could join a local affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers.

That process would create a group called a “micro-union.” A hearing officer for the labor board said that the shoe department employees follow unique procedures throughout the store. They also have skills and training that workers in other departments do not have.  Read the rest of the article by Jack Katzaknek for

AFL-CIO Shifting Resources.

President Barack Obama should probably think about either campaigning with the “fine” private sector or changing his policies to gain back unions’ trust.

The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the U.S., announced in the middle of election season that it will redistribute funds away from supporting political candidates.

According to the U.S. News’ Washington Whispers, “The federation says the shift has been in the works for months.”

“We wanted to start investing our funds in our own infrastructure and advocacy,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein told Whispers. ”There will be less contributions to candidates.”

Whispers says this means funds will be pulled from candidates “including President Obama.”

Although this withdrawal of support comes a week after the president neglected to appear in Wisconsin, where labor unions led a failed recall campaign against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Goldstein claims the strategy “is not a slight at the president.”

“Some candidates will get more, some less, some the same — but overall we’ll be focused more on spending resource to built our own structure [that] works for working people instead of others’ own structures,” Goldstein said.  Read the full article at the

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