Cincinnati Contractors Sentenced for Defrauding IBEW Local

On September 22, Rachetta Johnson and Charlene Monroe, co-owners of a contracting firm, Electrical Innovations, received identical sentences in Hamilton County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, of five years probation and 500 hours of community service for their roles in defrauding a market recovery fund of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212.  The fund assists union contractors in bidding for jobs against non-union contractors by enabling contractors to collect wage difference.  Johnson and Monroe conducted an invoice overpayment scam.  During July 2002-December 2003, they billed the local for hours that members hadn’t worked.  Earlier in the month, the pair pleaded guilty to theft by deception.  At their sentencing, the court also ordered them to pay $26,448 in restitution.  Another defendant, Michael Griffie, has been charged with theft of at least $100,000 in property or services. 

The union here was the victim rather than the victimizer.  Yet it is worth pointing out that the market recovery fund, and hence thefts from that fund, were made possible by union dues.  Given that Ohio is a non-Right to Work state, that fund might not have proven so lucrative to unscrupulous contractors if individual workers had the freedom to refrain from contributing without fear of losing their jobs.  The fund, in essence, functioned as a legal bribe to area contractors to hire IBEW labor.  Local 212 may not be guilty of corruption, but the system that it and its parent Electrical Workers union aggressively support surely encourages it.  (OLMS, 10/9/06).