Larry Fleming, the owner of Richmond Residential Care Ctr. in Palmer, Mich., admitted to embezzling his employees’ union dues. He pled guilty July 25 in state court to one count of embezzlement by a trustee or agent under $200. Fleming is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 26 on the misdemeanor charge. Under a plea agreement, four additional misdemeanor embezzlement charges were dropped. Mich. State Police detective Sgt. Walley Helmila said Fleming had withheld about $925 in union dues paid by his employees. Twelve of the center’s workers are members of the Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees. [Detroit News 7/26/01]
Maryland Employees Move to Decertify AFSCME Local
Employees at the Wash. Suburban Sanitary Comm’n have turned to the Dep’t of Justice and an independent union to help rid them of Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees, which they say has neglected members and refused to account for spending of their dues. Their complaint to DOJ charges that AFSCME Local 2898, in Md.’s Montgomery and Prince George counties, denied workers legitimate elections, financial reports, and access to audit statements. Further, the employees say AFSCME has failed to file and handle job-related grievances on time and to fulfill its responsibilities in negotiating for salaries and benefits. The employees have also asked the Md. Classified Employees Ass’n to form a new chapter.
About 280 WSSC employees signed the decertification petition to oust AFSCME. Additionally, two of its local officers, ex-vice president Thomas Kelly and ex-secretary-Treasurer Paul Linton, resigned this spring, citing disagreements with AFSCME bosses and personal frustration in their efforts to ensure fair representation of fellow employees. In his Mar. resignation letter to Local 2898 president John D. Swann, Linton said he had received no bank statements, despite repeated requests stretching back to Nov.
In June, Swann charged two WSSC employees, mechanics Joseph T. Diggs and James Cudmore, who had circulated the decertification petitions with violating AFSCME’s constitution by assisting a competing organization and “urging others to institute actions outside the union…without first exhausting all internal remedies.” Suzanne Levin, attorney for the two employees, said she cannot imagine what else her clients could have done in the face of AFSCME’s “egregious” disregard for accountability to members. “AFSCME is merely trying to squelch their rights to freedom of speech and association” that are protected by the Constitution and AFSCME’s own members’ bill of rights, Levin said.
MCEA president Ruth A. Ogle said her union has a 65-year history as a member-run organization, and “members are the ones who make the decisions” without any competing considerations or regard for outside politics. Ogle said there’s a “pattern” at the WSSC of employee grievances being filed but “never coming to any resolution.”
C.J. Ross, administrator of the Md. AFSCME council disputing whether the decertification petition was filed properly. If an arbitrator decides the petition is valid, WSSC workers will hold new elections to select a union. [Wash. Times 7/26/01]