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Union Facts

Crime and Corruption

handcuffsNearly fifty years after John F. Kennedy first condemned corrupt leadership in the American labor movement, it is still plagued by rampant corruption, embezzlement, racketeering and influence from numerous organized crime organizations. From penny-ante theft to multi-million dollar embezzlement schemes, labor leaders continue to violate the trust of the members they claim to represent.

The labor movement is nothing but the sum of its many parts—millions of working Americans who’ve entrusted union leaders to spend a portion of their hard earned salary for the benefit of the collective good. Financially speaking, the sum of the movement’s parts totals more than $10 billion dollars annually in mandatory dues and controls another $400 billion in financial assets in strike funds, pension plans, and health care benefits.

In fact, in just the last five years, hundreds (maybe thousands) of labor leaders at all levels of the movement have been convicted of embezzlement, corruption, racketeering, or engaging in organized crime. The problem is rampant, getting worse, and yet the unions seemingly refuse to address it.

Key Findings:

  • The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act’s (LMRDA) reliance on self-government, public disclosure, and ultimately deterrence has failed;
  • The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) has investigated and prosecuted union leaders for embezzling more than $100 million in union dues since 2001;
  • Investigations by the DOL’s Office of Inspector General, which investigates labor racketeering and organized crime’s influence within the labor movement, has resulted in more than $1 billion in fines, restitutions, and forfeitures;
  • Fewer than 5 percent of unions audited by the DOL received unqualified passes.

Read More:

Labor Racketeering Enforcement Actions

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Cases opened 105 125 124 135 103 130 93 112 96 117
Cases closed 109 130 144 115 107 122 111 92 117 130
Cases referred for prosecution 57 74 66 87 88 105 80 74 81 105
Indictments 161 218 181 260 322 271 198 195 111 139
Convictions 92 154 120 143 196 241 183 214 146 112
Fines, restitutions, forfeitures, and civil monetary actions ($ in millions) $42.5 $105.9 $27.9 $36.5 $187.9 $69.2 $27.1 $24.2 $76.2 $72.9

OLMS Enforcement Statistics Financial Integrity

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Indictments 98 166 132 109 114 118 99 NA 123
Convictions 102 90 152 111 97 129 118 NA 121