DOL Charges Failure of Notice for Food Wrkrs. Officer Elections in Wisc.

On September 5, 2003, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against United Food and Commercial Workers Local 538 in Madison, Wisconsin. The complaint seeks to set aside the local’s January 23-24, 2003, election for all contested officer positions. The complaint claims inadequate election notice in that the notice did not conspicuously appear on the front page of the newspaper; nor did the front page refer to a page within the newspaper where the notice could be found. The newspaper containing the notice was not the local’s newspaper. Rather, the notice appeared in a newspaper of a federation of labor unions. The complaint seeks a new election under the supervision of Secretary of Labor. The lawsuit resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Milwaukee District Office.

Graphic Union Bosses in GA Charged with Denial of Right to Vote for Officers
On August 29, 2003, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against Graphic Communications Local Union 527-S. The complaint claims that the local union denied members the right to vote secret ballots, failed to provide sufficient notice of nominations, and failed to mail election notices to the membership. The complaint seeks to hold new nominations and a new election for all officer positions under OLMS supervision. The complaint resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Atlanta District Office into the local’s election of officers which concluded on December 8, 2002.

Another Sentencing in Intl. Iron Workers Case
On August 25, 2003, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Darrel E. Shelton, former general organizer for the Iron Workers International Union, was sentenced to four months in prison, followed by four months home detention and two years supervised probation. Shelton was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $80,000 and a special assessment in the amount of $965. He was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. The sentence was reduced due to his assistance in the larger federal investigation of the Iron Workers Union. On September 15, 2000, Shelton pled guilty to nine counts of embezzlement of union funds; one count of false entries in union records; and one count of conspiracy to embezzle union funds. The guilty plea and sentence followed an investigation by the OLMS Washington District Office, the FBI, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Convicted Ohio Union Embezzler Moves to Family Trusts
In the case of Perrysburg businessman Norman C. Hartsel, it appears that old union embezzlers don’t die, or even fade away: they just move on to a different target.  Hartsel and his wife Mary have been sued in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Northern Dist. of Ohio for allegedly stealing more than $2.8 million from family trust funds to support his real estate company, and squandering another $1.1 million on margin loans from the trusts.

In 1998, Hartsel was convicted of embezzlement at the Toledo Jeep Assembly plant.  He and Ron Conrad, once the shop chair of United Auto Wrkrs. Local 12, set up a false hunger-relief fund that received donations from Jeep workers’ payroll deductions.  Hartsel and Conrad split the donations between themselves.  Hartsel served 15 mos. in federal prison.

The current suit was filed by Lois Jean Hilbert and other relatives, charging that Hartsel misused the family trusts after Mrs. Hilbert’s husband, Charles, died in January 2000.  The relatives are seeking the return of the $3.9 million misspent trust funds, with 10% annual interest from 2000.  The relatives have also asked that the assets of Hartsel and his company be placed in trust, to help provide restitution.  His real estate is reportedly valued at more than $2 million. [The Blade, Toledo, OH, 9/6/01]