The American Labor Reform Movement

January 18, 2013

Why Is the AFL-CIO Refusing
To Publish Information About the
Ethical Practices Committee?

Why Did The EPC Never Rebuke
Labor Leaders who illegally
Profited from a Phony Tax Deal?

By Harry Kelber

Was it the usual incompetence of the AFL-CIO Outreach as to why it took three days in providing information as to who is chairman of the Ethical Practices Committee (EPC)—and failed to come up with an accurate answer?

Or was it because charges had been filed against AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who fraudulently—and secretly—used a scheme to guarantee his re-election and deprive other union members of the right to run for high office?

So, why isn't the Ethical Practices Committee holding hearings to consider the charges against violators of union rules? No one I talked to or interviewed seemed to have the vaguest knowledge of the workings of the Ethical Practices Committee.

Both Google and Trumka listed the ETC chairman as Michael Sullivan, who had retired from the Sheet Metal Workers Union several weeks earlier and had not been replaced.

Resorting to Google, I found a letter from Trumka that gave me the name and phone number of Lynn Rhinehart, the AFL-CIO's General Counsel at (202) 627- 5155.

But after three days, all I could get from her were voice mails where she finally said stop calling me.

Wherever I searched, the Ethical Practices Committee was an enigma

EPC Has Protected labor Leaders Who Violated the Law

The Ethical Practices Committee was designed in 1955-57 at the merger of the AFL and CIO to protect union members against embezzlement of funds, dictatorial attitudes, blackmail over jobs and other violation of union rules and practices.

But it has also been used to protect the interests of labor leaders who committed acts that were violations of federal labor laws.

Let's recall the tax scandal at Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO), where some 26 retired and current top labor leaders, serving as directors, were caught red-handed in illegally profiting from an insider tax scheme. Instead of punishing those labor leaders, EPC did not even rebuke them, and allowed them to retain their positions on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Here are three of the get-rich-quick labor leaders, who shared in the $14 million payoff deal between 1997 and 2002:

Martin Maddeloni, president of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters International Union; Morton Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America, and Douglas McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

While Bahr and Maddeloni remained respected members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, McCarron pulled out of the AFL-CIO. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, while a key member of the insider tax group, never profited from it. A key figure in the scandal was Robert Georgine who chaired the Building and Construction Trades Department for about 30 years.

* * * * *

Union members have a two-fold problem: (1) How to restore the Ethical Practices Committee to how it was envisioned at the time of the merger, all contained in a small booklet that can easily be reprinted; and (2), The EPC must be used to protect the union and its members and not serve as a haven for criminals.

Union members are invited to express their views on these problems

Posted here weekly and at our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

Harry Kelber, Editor
The Labor Educator
hkelber@earthlink.net

Read more articles in The American Labor Reform Movement Series