Working in a slaughterhouse was never for the weak of heart. It’s understandable that people who make a living that way would want to indulge in a few luxuries once in a while. But Stephen Bush, 43, former vice-president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 990, believed that luxuries could be paid for out of the pockets of unsuspecting dues-paying members. Now his career as an embezzler is as defunct as the local itself. Bush was indicted on June 20 by a federal grand jury in Denver on 51 counts of embezzlement following a Department of Labor probe.
Labor Department officials for years had been investigating financial irregularities at the local, which at one point represented some 2,800 meat-processing plant workers in Greeley, Colo. Certain plant employees contacted the department to initiate an investigation. As it turned out, Bush likely used his union credit card to buy $22,514 worth of items that included Las Vegas hotel stays, expensive dinners, baseball games and satellite television. He faces up to five years in prison, if convicted.
Bush’s pilferage problem seems to run in the family. Last year, his sister, Barbara Ann Hayes, a bookkeeper with Local 990, pleaded guilty to forging $27,248 in union checks. Their father, Ron Bush, former president of the local, also has been under investigation, although he has not been charged with anything. Another union bookkeeper, no relative, Grace Gonzalez Maldonado, pleaded guilty to embezzling $11,206. She and Hayes cooperated with the feds in exchange for reduced sentences. Meanwhile, the national union since has disbanded Local 990. Workers at the Greeley plant, now operated by Swift, subsequently have joined UFCW Local 7. (Denver Post, 6/22).