Union official busted for taking bribes from pot dispensaries

More news to show that your friendly, neighborhood union representative is on the side of the people. And if they can score some free cash and a few bags of weed on the side, who among us should really cast stones? One representative of the of the United Food and Commercial Workers union has some upcoming dates in court after the FBI discovered that some of the fringe benefits of his job were a bit more generous than the human resources department imagined. (San Francisco Gate)

An Oakland labor union official has been charged in federal court with accepting bribes or kickbacks in exchange for helping marijuana dispensary operators, court records show.

Daniel Rush, 54, organizing coordinator of the cannabis division of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, was charged this week in U.S. District Court in Oakland with honest-services fraud and accepting payments in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act, which restricts the activities and power of labor unions. He is free on $100,000 bond.

Rush has been fired from the union, said spokeswoman Amber Sparks.

Lucky for him he was able to make that $100K bond so quickly. The Workforce Fairness Institute was quick to point out that new union ambush election laws have given the union access to unprecedented amounts of personal information on both workers and employers which makes shenanigans like this all the more easy for those who want to fatten their wallets.

“UFCW is a union that has access to personal employee contact information, thanks to the new NLRB Ambush election rules—which is worrisome since coercion and intimidation are alive and well with unions. We need laws that will protect employees, employers, and their personal information—not make it easy for them to be harassed,” said Heather Greenaway, spokesperson for Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).

In theory it would be nice to shrug our shoulders and say that this was just one bad apple and every organization is going to have some from time to time. And just to be clear, that’s absolutely true. But it’s also true that the unions have a bit too much history to play this off as some sort of aberration when the they essentially make their living by extracting money from workers and then using that cash to pay for the election of political candidates rather than seeing to the needs of their workers. (Can you imagine if workers with legitimate complaints against an employer went on strike and their unions had saved all that money and were able to pay their salaries and cover all of their health care and other benefits while they were out of work? It would almost make you believe in the unions again.)

The folks at WFI make a good point. The more we bend the rules and allow the unions access to the private contact information, personal details and data of both workers and employers with no accountability for how that data is controlled or used, the more often we’re going to see cases like this coming to light. The NLRB is far too often an agent of the wrong kind of change lately and also needs to be kept in check. Unfortunately it’s going to take a change at the top of the political food chain before that ever happens.