Well, this is not necessarily a shocker, but labor unions across the country, in cities and small towns, have become engulfed in embezzling scandals. Yes, it’s a “water is wet” story, but millions have been siphoned away from due-paying members, even in times of economic hardship. The Detroit Free Press obtained documents from the Department of Labor that in the past two years, over 300 labor union chapters have detected fraud. Two cases with the United Auto Workers Union in Michigan and New Jersey had embezzling episodes that soared over $1 million. The Free Press added that at times, some people who have been tasked with looking after the books were simply not qualified for the job, some cases they were headed up by people who couldn’t balance their own checkbook. That factor, plus the notion that many people in unions and nonprofits feel underpaid and overworked increase the temptation for corruption; they have access to the cash. Most of the time, the funneled money is spent on high-end items:
As the UAW, Fiat Chrysler and federal investigators unravel a scandal over the misappropriation of millions of dollars meant for worker training, federal records show that embezzling from union offices is endemic around the country.
U.S. Department of Labor documents obtained by the Free Press show embezzlement from hundreds of union offices nationwide over the past decade. In just the past two years, more than 300 union locations have discovered theft, often resulting in more than one person charged in each instance, the records show.
Cases involved unions representing nurses, aerospace engineers, firefighters, teachers, film and TV artists, air traffic controllers, musicians, bus inspectors, bakery workers, roofers, postal workers, machinists, ironworkers, steelworkers, dairy workers, plasterers, train operators, plumbers, stagehands, engineers, electricians, heat insulators, missile range workers and bricklayers.
Individual cases compiled by the Office of Labor-Management Standards last year cite theft and fraud ranging from $1,051 to nearly $6.5 million.
Andy Dunbar, a union steward for electricians at Cobo Center, said he went to federal court and watched as dues-paying members urged the judge to punish a clerk who embezzled during the economic downturn.
Ann Marie Shaffer, 57, of Livonia was sentenced to a year in prison after admitting to embezzling $101,059.56 in 2008-10.
The article listed some high-priced robberies that have been documented. The publication added that the ironic aspect of union malfeasance is that it’s usually the unions themselves or other government agencies that discover the fraud due to audits. Regardless, the political damage is done–and on that front, I'm not as sympathetic.