The Wisconsin State Employees Union last month seized tens of thousands of dollars from five union locals of correctional officers that have broken away from WSEU. WSEU’s director said the union had taken about $45,000, while an official with one of the locals said the total was closer to $25,000.
The state union withdrew the money from a number of local bank accounts it had access to, and WSEU’s assistant director and another union representative persuaded managers at one bank to allow a locksmith to drill out the safe-deposit box and remove a $14,000 money order.
Marty Beil, the executive director of WSEU, justified sending his minions to seize funds from local unions after their decision to break away from AFSCME by saying, “This money is really the property of the union and has to accrue to the membership.” However, despite Beil’s bluster, two Wisconsin appeals courts have ruled local union funds stay with those local unions when they change over to new unions.
In 1986, a court said the money stayed with the local when workers at Waukesha County Technical Institute left AFSCME and joined the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Another appeals court panel reached the same decision in 2008 when state law officers left AFSCME to join the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association.
Beil argued that this situation is “altogether different” from those in the earlier cases in which AFSCME lost. In this case, he said, the question of who gets the money should be decided by the union’s charter – an argument that failed in the two earlier cases.
The ham-handed way Marty Beil and his minions have handled the seizure of local union funds just goes to show how dysfunctional the leadership of AFSCME Council 24 is, and it’s abundantly clear to me that a change is in order.
It’s time for Marty Beil and his right-hand woman Jana Weaver to go.