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Union Facts

Union Leader Fraud

OLMS Enforcement Statistics Financial Integrity

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

Source: Office of Labor-Management Standards

Embezzlement, False Reports, Violence, And More

Most people don’t know just how many crimes are committed every year through which union officials hurt their own members. The number of reputed and verified crimes is staggering. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the hundreds of indictments of union officials for violations of the Labor Management and Reporting Disclosure Act. According to the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), those crimes include “embezzlement, filing false reports, keeping false records, destruction of records, extortionate picketing and deprivation of rights by violence.” The OLMS notes:

As part of its effort to protect and safeguard union funds and assets, OLMS investigates possible embezzlement from unions and other violations of criminal laws. Over the past 10 years, restitution of $102,615,236 has been paid or ordered to be paid to defrauded unions and other parties.

That’s $102,615,236 million in restitution ordered for victimizing union members and others.

Labor and Racketeering Investigations

FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 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
Source: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General

Labor Racketeering

The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General oversees, among other things, cases of labor racketeering — and it stays busy. Union officials have continued to earn their reputation for greed, corruption, and mismanagement of union dues.

Since FY 2001, racketeering investigations have yielded more than 2,000 indictments and awarded more than $3 billion in fines and restitution.. Many of these cases involve union officials failing to protect their members from unethical pension scams and internal union racketeering cases, but OIG’s website currently notes “a rapid rise of transnational organized crime groups that are engaging in new criminal enterprises … Specifically, OIG investigations have found that nontraditional organized criminal groups are exploiting the Department of Labor’s foreign labor certification and Unemployment Insurance programs.”

  • According to a 2004 Zogby International poll, 71% of union members said the government ought to do more to protect union members from corrupt union officials, and that unions should be required to give detailed reporting of union finances to discourage abuse.
  • According to the FBI, four of the last eight Teamsters presidents have been criminally indicted.
  • Nearly 50% of the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General’s labor racketeering investigations involve pensions and employee welfare benefit plans.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, “Schemes involving bribery, extortion, deprivation of union rights by violence, and embezzlement used by early racketeers are still employed to abuse the power of unions.”
  • An October 2010 Word Doctors poll reveals that 44% of public and government union members believe American unions are less honest and principled than they were 50 years ago. 26% said they were “not really sure” or thought it was “exactly the same.”