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Unions In the News - January 2016

Letter: Right-to-Work Law Essential for Ky. - The Advocate Messenger featured a letter to the editor on January 6 highlighting the need for right-to-work legislation in Kentucky. The article highlighted how Kentucky lost 600 steelworker union jobs and construction projects across the state are coming to a halt while neighboring Tennessee is seeing an economic boom. According to the author, data from states with right-to-work laws show stronger job growth and improved business climates.
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- The Advocate Messenger

MEA Announces Violation of Right-to-Work Law, Says Members May Leave at Any Time. - The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reported on January 6 that the Michigan Education Association (MEA) admitted to violating Michigan’s right-to-work law by allowing members to leave the union only during the month of August. In light of this admission, the union is now allowing members to leave at any time. The change comes after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of four teachers who charged MEA with threatening to turn them over to a collection agency for choosing not to pay union dues after they had notified the union of their desire to leave.
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- The Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Republican Senate Majority’s Priorities: Education Reform, Right-to-Work and More. - Kentucky Public Radio reported on January 6 that Kentucky’s Republican majority intends to pass legislation that would enable workers to opt out of joining unions. The Senate majority has a Republican governor for the first time since 2007. That said, Senate Republicans will face an uphill battle from the Kentucky State House in which Democrats have a slim majority.
- Kentucky Public Radio

Martinez Revives Right-to-Work Debate in New Mexico. - Las Cruces Sun-News reported on January 7 that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says she will include right-to-work legislation in her legislative agenda. According to Gov. Martinez, advancing right-to-work legislation is a “no-brainer” because it would make the state more competitive when it comes to attracting new businesses. In 2015, a right-to-work proposal passed the New Mexico State House but failed in the Democrat-led New Mexico State Senate.
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- Las Cruces Sun-News

Union Boss Sentenced for Stealing 13K. - The Daily Caller reported on January 13 that Gregory Paradis, a former New Hampshire union president, was sentenced to two years’ probation after stealing more than $13,000 from members. Paradis served as president of the Seabrook Nuclear Security Officers Association from 2011 to 2012. During this time, Paradis used a union debit card to buy personal items. He has since been ordered to repay the union the $13,000 he stole.
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- The Daily Caller

Former Broward Teachers Union President’s Corruption Case Goes to Jury. - The Sun Sentinel reported on January 19 that Pat Santeramo, the former Broward Teachers Union president, illegally reimbursed employees for campaign contributions using union funds. Santeramo also profited from a contractor’s excessive bills for work at the union’s headquarters. Santeramo is on trial for grand theft, money laundering and racketeering as a result of his illegal activities while he led the union from 2006 to 2011.
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- Sun Sentinel

Former Union Official in Jackson County Admits Embezzlement. - The Kansas City Star reported on January 20 that Lowell Wreh embezzled more than $7,000 while serving as president of the Local 1707 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Wreh’s predecessor in the position, Jesse Morgan, pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2014 and is currently in federal prison for his crime. Wreh likely will also face prison time and be ordered to pay restitution to the union.
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- The Kansas City Star

West Virginia Senate Passes Right-to-Work; Bill Moves to House. - WOWKTV reported on January 21 that the West Virginia State Senate passed legislation that would allow non-union members to work in a union shop without paying dues. For unions who violate this rule, employers would have to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 a day in fines. West Virginia is the only state in the nation to have lost population, and West Virginia State Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael believes this proposal could help reverse this trend.
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- WOWKTV

Former Union Leader Facing Prison, Fines for Embezzling. - NorthJersey.com reported on January 25 that Richard “Buzzy” Dressel was sentenced to four months in federal prison for plotting to siphon funds from the Local 164 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Paramus. Dressel embezzled funds from the union to help pay the salary of his future wife. Dressel is also required to pay more than $37,000 in restitution and $5,000 in fines.
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- NorthJersey.com

Parole Office Worker Accused of Embezzling $36,500 from Prison Union. - MLive.com reported on January 29 that Kimberly Lynn Gue, former local union secretary, was charged with felony embezzlement after stealing more than $36,000 from her local AFSCME unit. Gue was ordered to repay the funds by the president of the union, but after Gue failed to do so, the president reported her to the police. Gue faces up to five years in prison and could be ordered to pay up to $108,000.
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- MLive.com

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