Sweeney Goes to Jail

AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney was among 148 union radicals of arrested Nov. 17 in a Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees protest outside the San Francisco’s Marriott Hotel. Police estimated that more than 1,100 protesters blocked the street during the evening rush-hour rally. Sweeney bragged: “I think this is just an indication of the kind of organizing activity that we’re going to see not just in HERE but in the AFL-CIO… We’re trying to mobilize workers around issues that affect their lives. And we’re seeing more and more energy and enthusiasm around organizing campaigns and contract negotiations.” Sweeney threatened: “No matter how long it takes to bring this corporate criminal to justice [we’ll fight].” A Marriott spokesman said the hotel is the most profitable in the city and pays its workers $.40 cents to $1 an hour more than other union hotels.  He added: “We’re honored Mr. Sweeney came to visit us. We’re only sorry he isn’t staying in the hotel.” [BNA 11/19/98]

Union Used for Fraud in West Virginia
A former College of West Virginia official used the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers to embezzled $113,000 from the federal government. John Raymond Maestas was sentence Nov. 16 to 6 months in prison and order to pay $113,000 in restitution. He pled guilty to 13 counts of fraud in Aug. The college worked on the hazardous materials program with IUOE for the U.S. Energy Dep’t. The subcontract allowed Maestas to bill IUOE $500 for each day it provided services for the project. Energy would then reimbursed the union. The indictment alleged that Maestas billed $142,500 for 285 days of services in 1995-96, though the “virtually no services” were provided during that time. [Charleston Gazette 11/17/98]

Illinois Fundraising Scam Busted
A Palatine, Ill. union boss was sued Nov. 12 as part of a crackdown on deceptive fund-raising for police, firefighters and other causes. Ill. Attorney General Jim Ryan charged police union boss John J. Flood and telemarketing firm of using deceptive means to raise over $300,000 since 1997 for the United Firefighters of Illinois (UFI). Donors believed their funds helping disabled firefighters and families of deceased firefighters. UFI isn’t registered to raise charitable contributions, and there is no evidence the funds raised went to charity.  The lawsuit charges Flood kept $30,000 for his own personal use. It’s not the first time though that Flood has been in trouble over fund raising. In 1996, Ryan sued over questionable fund raising being done on behalf of Flood’s police union, Combined Counties Police Association. That lawsuit still is pending in circuit court. [Chi. Daily Herald 11/13/98]