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

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Movement | January 18, 2013

Was it the usual incompetence of the AFL-CIO Outreach 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, where is 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 the AFL-CIO’s General Council. Lynn Rhinehart, the AFL-CIO’ 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. I could not help being suspicious that a virus had been placed on my story to prevent its publication

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 a tax insiders 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-quickly 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, McGregor 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 Council 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.

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