California Bosses Must Stand Trial for $100,000 Theft

Ex-secretary Gail M. Brown-Ral and ex-treasurer Dax C. Heramis of the L.A. Airport Police Officers Ass’n must stand trial on grand theft charges of stealing over $100,000 from union coffers, a Municipal Court Judge Glennette Blackwell ruled Apr. 23. Both bosses are currently in jail for not posting $110,000 bail and face 4 years in prison if convicted.  The case resulted from Nov. 1996 union request to the Dist. Atty.’s Office to investigate the alleged embezzlement of funds and equipment.  Expenditures of $68,000 in 1993 and $62,000 in 1994 were questioned. Prosecutors reportedly found a number of checks made out to Brown-Ral, and others made out to ”cash” and cashed by Heramis. [City News Service 4/23/99]

Dissident Infighting in New York
A recently-empowered dissident in AFSCME’s scandal-ridden Dist. Council 37 in N.Y. has allegedly engaged in the sort of behavior that led to the ouster of the old-guard leadership in 1998. Mark Rosenthal, president of AFSCME Local 983 has been accused by one of his ex-allies of taking a $90,000 salary and providing money and free meals to friends on Local 983’s board. “He will try anything to keep his $ 90,000-a-year job,” or improve his political standing to join the DC37 board, Local 983 vice-president Vincent Ruiz said in his letter of resignation, dated April 15. Ruiz helped Rosenthal oust Robert Taylor and other bosses.  In the wake of Ruiz’s resignation, Rosenthal fought back sending  a letter to members saying Ruiz started showing up late for work and used a union automobile for personal purposes. [Newsday 4/23/99]

Minnesota Boss Opposes Theft Reforms
Attempting to curb employee theft, Minneapolis’ Rainbow Foods is offering rewards of up to $300 for turning in employees suspected of stealing. Rainbow Foods’ Tom Farello said that in 1998 the chain lost $18 million to various forms of “shrink”: theft, unauthorized markdowns, intentional record-keeping errors and damaged products. “Shrink” reportedly costs the retail industry about $9.5 billion a year. The “shrink” reducing program is aimed at keeping down costs so the firm can keep prices down for consumers. In a troubling response, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 653 boss Ron Zwieg opposed the anti-corruption program. “I cannot tell you how disturbing I find this approach,” said Zwieg who has threatened to file unfair labor practice charges against Rainbow. [Star-Tribune 4/22/99]