AFSCME officials charged in embezzlement scheme

A last bit of leftover business from last December: One of the few government agencies that is genuinely underfunded proved its value a couple of weeks ago. Investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor Management Standards led to two officials from AFSCME Local 100 in Pontiac being brought up on charges from the embezzlement of nearly $40,000 of union funds. Former Local 100 President Diedre Lucas was indicted on four charges of embezzlement, while former Treasurer Brenda Bywater faces a charge of making false entries in union records. Lucas in particular is likely to be looking at prison time if the charges hold up.

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The Obama administration proposes to cut spending on OLMS, which oversees union compliance with federal law, by 9 percent between 2009 and 2010, while spending on the rest of the Department of Labor (especially those sections that regulate employers) increases by 4.7 percent. This is little more than a petty favor for unions; the “savings” from the OLMS cut are trivial, only $4 million out of a departmental budget of $13.3 billion. Union corruption is a constant threat to union members, and Michigan unions are not immune. OLMS should be fully funded, and Michigan should establish financial accounting standards for government employee unions that are currently exempt from federal standards.