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Unions In the News - June 2016

Right-to-Work Moves Economies and Lives Forward. - The Albuquerque Journal featured an opinion piece on June 1 by an Albuquerque resident highlighting how right-to-work legislation benefits New Mexico. According to the author, legislators are adamant in their opposition to right-to-work because of money. Unions donate to politicians politicians “grant great favors to union leadership” and unions require membership and automatic dues collection.
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- Albuquerque Journal

Former Post Office Union Leader Sentenced For Embezzlement. - The Lansing State Journal reported on June 2 that Jesus Gonzales, former president of the Michigan Postal Workers’ Union, was sentenced to two years of probation and restitution for embezzling from the union. Gonzales was ordered to pay nearly $7,000 back to the union and to serve probation. He also falsified records to show he had taken unpaid leave when he had actually taken paid time off.
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- Lansing State Journal

Former FOP President Shields Wins $21K Jury Award in Lawsuit. - The Chicago Sun Times reported on June 2 Michael Shields, the former president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, won a lawsuit claiming he was removed from office for exposing union corruption. Shields was suspended after he sent a letter to the city hall inspector general stating that two police contracts and a sergeants’ contract were fixed. Following the letter, Fields was suspended and accused of being a “dictator.”
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- Chicago Sun Times

Teacher and Son Arrested, Accused of Stealing Over $100,000 From Teacher’s Union Fund. - ABC 25 WPBF News reported on June 3 that a middle school teacher and her son were arrested for stealing nearly $150,000 from a teacher’s union fund. According to the sheriff’s office, the mother-son duo illegally withdrew money from the union beginning in 2013. Marjorie Ann Garland, a teacher, formerly served as the treasurer of the Martin County Teachers Union. The mother and son were held in jail with the bond set at $1 million each.
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- ABC 25 WPBF News

Ex-president of Paramus Union Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Count. - reported on June 6 that John DeBouter, the former president of a New Jersey-based electricians union pleaded guilty to falsely reporting the amount of time worked by the future wife of the union’s business manager, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel. DeBouter and Dressel were accused of conspiring to steal more than $300,000 from the union. DeBouter faces up to a year in prison when he is sentenced in September.
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Fraud Charges Against Jail Officers’ Union Chief With a Taste for Luxury. - The New York Times reported on June 8 that Norman Seabrook, former president of the New York City correction officers’ union, created a kickback scheme. Seabrook made an investment deal putting $20 million of union funds in a high-risk hedge fund. In exchange, Seabrook was given $60,000, delivered in a Salvatore Ferragamo bag. During the course of his presidency, Seabrook received luxuries from those seeking favors from him including trips to Israel and the Dominican Republic. Seabrook has been charged with one count of honest services fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.
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- The New York Times

Schimel: Right-to-Work is the Law in Wisconsin. - Wisconsin Watchdog reported on June 8 that Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel released a statement that right-to-work is the law of the land in Wisconsin. According to Schimel, the Wisconsin District 3 Court of Appeals “ended any confusion about whether the right-to-work law is still in effect.” Mark Mix, president of the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation, has said Schimel is doing a service to the state by making employees realize compulsory unionism is a bad institution.
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- Wisconsin Watchdog

Time for The MEA to Recognize Right-to-Work. - The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reported on June 8 that the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is representing an Ann Arbor science teacher, Ronald Robinson, in his suit against the Michigan Education Association. The union is illegally preventing Robinson from exercising his right not to belong to the union and billing him for fees to the union he does not wish to be part of. Robinson notified the union he does not want to be a part of it because he does not feel it represents his interests.
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- Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Senators’ Attack on Right-to-Work an Attack on Freedom. - The Statesman Journal featured an opinion piece by Anne Marie Gurney, the Oregon director of the Freedom Foundation, on June 19. In this piece, Gurney offers counterpoints to a guest opinion piece co-authored by Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. According to Gurney, comparing salaries in right-to-work versus non-right-to-work states is meaningless because the cost of living in non-right-to-work states is much higher. She concludes by stating that supporting the right-to-work is nothing more than allowing workers to choose who they want to affiliate with and which political agendas they support.
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- Statesman Journal

Mail Handlers Stewards in Detroit Indicted for Embezzlement. - The National Legal and Policy Center reported on June 17 that Jeffrey Velfing, the former chief steward, and John Crosby, the assistant steward of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 307, each pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $7,000 from their union. The guilty pleas stem from an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor.
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- National Legal and Policy Center

Right-to-Work for More? Michigan Income Growth the Nation’s Third-Fastest. - Michigan Capitol Confidential reported on June 23 that incomes in Michigan grew faster than all but two states in the first quarter of 2016. These figures run counter to the claims made by unions that right-to-work laws result in lower worker pay and family incomes. Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012. According to these same figures, Michigan’s unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since March 2001.
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- Michigan Capitol Confidential

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