“Union dues are being appropriated, stolen, embezzled and converted from the union coffers to inflate the pensions of Carpenters’ officials without the consent of the union members.” So says Jonathan Gould, floorlayer and former compliance officer for the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters’ Regional Council. A legal fight is playing out in St. Louis Circuit Court, as Gould’s lawsuit names as defendants seven union leaders and the entire Carpenters’ council, which represents 34 locals with about 22,000 members in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Terrence Nelson, the incumbent council leader that Gould dared to challenge in a 2014 election, filed a countersuit claiming defamation. Gould was fired, and claims it was because he dared to expose the council’s corruption.
A similar situation is brewing in California, when Vons employee Chris Lopez sent an email to about 40 United Food and Commercial Workers officials, including international president Anthony “Marc” Perrone, calling for an internal union investigation and audit of San Diego labor leader Mickey Kasparian. Hours after sending the email, Lopez received a letter from a law firm accusing him of defamation, and of misusing “proprietary” contact information. Lopez’s concern stems from 3 other pending lawsuits aimed at Kasparian. Said Lopez about the recent action, “I think it’s a reasonable request for a union member who pays union dues — not only to Local 135 but to the international union — that there be … some sort of investigation. And that’s the only thing I ask for, and I got that threatening letter.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) ran afoul of the courts when it attempted to oust a contender to the incumbent AFGE president. Eugene Hudson Jr., the Secretary Treasurer and 2nd highest official in the union, upset the apple cart when he challenged president J. David Cox Sr., and the union attempted to remove him for spurious reasons when he became a political threat to Cox. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ordered Hudson reinstated, and in his opinion provided a sharp rebuke to the union leadership. Hudson’s drama is just one of many simmering at AFGE, involving Cox either protecting errant leaders, or ousting others who have threatened him politically.
In addition to SEIU’s recent sexual harassment travails, AFL-CIO’s chief budget officer and assistant to Trumka, Terry Stapleton, has resigned amidst similar charges. Additional revelations have come to light about abusive behavior during the 2016 election in Pennsylvania. Current and former AFL-CIO employees say leaders shouldn’t be shocked by the recent allegations. According to them, in 2015 an external consulting group prepared a report for the organization that related staff accounts of “rampant” sexual harassment and discrimination. The report was never distributed and only a handful of people were allowed to see it.