Like many other union officials and employees over the past few years, Thomas V. Wallace had a gambling habit fed by thefts from the union. Wallace for the past decade has served as treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 in Portland, Oregon, which represents workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington State, including 2,100 of the 2,500 employees of TriMet. On February 14, Local President Jon Hunt sent a letter to members informing them of the situation. Wallace, the letter read, “made a horrendous choice that has betrayed us all.” Though Hunt declined to specify a dollar figure, he did indicate that the union has enough in reserve to pay its bills. Though Wallace has not been charged with a crime, the local has informed the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the situation.
Wallace served on the union’s executive board for eight years before becoming treasurer. He took money from “at least one pass-through account” – the TriMet Child Care/Elder Assistance program fund. The thefts came to light after Wallace inappropriately borrowed money from the fund. Hunt then ordered a full-scale audit of all Local 757 pass-through accounts. The international union has placed the local under temporary trusteeship. On the plus side, Wallace, 49, already has admitted to his offenses, which he said took place prior to the election of the current local leadership in July 2006, and has partly repaid the union. Hopefully, if and when he is prosecuted, his efforts at making restitution will be taken into account. (The Oregonian, 2/21/07).