Scandal has a way of following the leadership of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) lately. In March 2008, Don Hahs, president of the Cleveland-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters-affiliated labor organization, was removed from his post by the Teamsters for embezzling around $58,000 in BLET funds. Now his replacement, Edward Rodzwicz, is in hot water of his own. On Tuesday, October 13, federal agents arrested Rodzwicz at his Avon, Ohio home on bribery charges. The previous week, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against him in St. Louis federal court.
Court papers say that Rodzwicz, 63, solicited and accepted $20,000 in bribes from an unnamed St. Louis lawyer in exchange for allowing the lawyer to remain on a list of attorneys approved to handle injury cases for union members. That lawyer was supposed to have been removed from the list due to prior ethical violations. Rodzwicz allegedly accepted a $10,000 payoff on April 28 in Las Vegas. Then, after sending the attorney a letter allowing him to keep the designation, he accepted another $10,000 bribe on September 16 in Kansas City, Mo. Unknown to Rodzwicz, however, the lawyer months earlier had informed the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General of the pending transactions. The attorney then cooperated with the DOL in its investigation.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, with some 55,000 members, has been a division within the Teamsters for several years. Teamster President James P. Hoffa last year removed BLET President Don Hahs and fined him $45,000 following accumulation of evidence that Hahs during 2004-06 had embezzled union funds to pay for personal expenses, especially Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games and family travel. The Teamsters, who remain under oversight by the Independent Review Board following a 1989 federal civil RICO consent decree, were under great pressure to remove Hahs. Hoffa then replaced him with Rodzwicz, who had been BLET first vice-president. It looks as if he’ll be looking for a new president once more.