10.01.2008 0

Life isnt easy for Carla Katz

  • On: 10/15/2008 16:10:01
  • In: Big Labor
  • By Carter Clews
    Executive Editor of ALG News

    Just two weeks ago, she lost her bid to become a capo de capo high atop the national Communications Workers of America union. And then, low and behold, earlier this week, the CWA’s Washington-based Mustache Petes voted unanimously to remove her from the presidency of CWA Local 134, the New Jersey’s largest state-worker union.

    Inquiring minds will recall, of course, that this is the same Carla Katz who just a few years back was unceremoniously dumped by soon-to-be governor, and long-time lover, Jon Corzine, just as he was about to grasp the Holy Gubernatorial Grail. Then, to make matters worse, a superior court judge ruled that the Governor had to release all of the most intimate emails between him and Ms. Katz.

    And there went any remaining hopes Carla may have harbored of being named one of the Vestal Virgins Who Guards the Sacred Flame. But, I digress.

    Carla, for her part, is clearly outraged over being trashed by the national union hierarchy. They even sent out a news release. In her response, she hastily dashed off a statement calling her union bosses’ actions “appalling” and a “travesty.” They were “baseless” and “extreme,” the woman scorned lamented. And on top of that, she scrawled, they were nothing less than “a retaliation against me.”

    Clearly, it ain’t easy getting whacked.

    Then, unfortunately, the damsel in considerable distress went a bridge too far. She protested that the wise guys had “trampled the democratic rights of the members of our union under the deceptive guise of protecting democracy.” And, suddenly, she sounded like she was writing copy for the National Right to Work Committee. That, after all, is as clear and concise a definition of compulsory unionism as anyone would ever care to write.

    But, the quality of mercy not being strained, one has to be understanding. Remember, Ms. Katz was under extreme duress, having just lost her $120,000 a year sinecure, which her former lover, the current Governor, had helped make so lucrative.

    And besides that, there is the patent unfairness of it all. You see, according the union bosses, Carla was removed from the presidency of Local 1034 for … let’s see, now, how do we put this delicately? Well, being a thief!

    Here’s how the CWA’s national board put it: “An extensive internal review revealed probably cause to believe that the local is engaged in ongoing financial malpractice, the misappropriation of union funds, a failure to comply with state and federal law, as well as the CWA constitution, and the suppression of dissent.”

    Now, leave aside the clear quackery of a bunch of union bosses waxing indignant over the “suppression of dissent.” Have you ever seen what happens to “scabs” who dare dissent from being shanghaied into the union ranks?

    The fact is, for some reason—no doubt, in part, because the Governor has removed his protective (and caressing hand)—Ms. Katz’ union bosses have decided to hold her up to a far higher standard of conduct than is usually expected of those in her ignoble profession.

    After all, it’s not as if “misappropriation of union funds and failure to comply with state and federal law” is unheard of in the ranks of the union hierarchy. In fact, most would say that Ms. Katz has plenty of grizzly company in her alleged life of crime. Here’s a listing of union boss business-as-usual activities from one four-week period alone earlier this year:

    • March 31st, the former Financial Secretary and Treasurer of PACE Local-5 in Cleveland, Ohio pled guilty to embezzling $12,328 in union dues, falsification of union financial records and filing a false financial report.
    • March 19th, former Bargaining Committee Chairperson of UAW Local 2911 plead guilty to embezzling approximately $41,000 in union dues.
    • March 18th, the former Business Manager and Financial-Secretary of IBEW Local 163 in Philadelphia, PA was sentenced to six months imprison for embezzling $256,000 in union dues.
    • March 17th, the former Manager of General Services for the AFSCME was charged with embezzling approximately $75,000 in union dues.
    • On March 16th, the former Treasurer of CU Local 113 was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to embezzling over $14,000 in union dues.
    • March 12th, the former Treasurer of Steelworkers Local 1-1462 was charged with embezzling over $11,000 in union dues.
    • On March 7th, the former Treasurer of the ATU Local 1755 pled guilty to one count felony forgery in connection with his alleged conversion of union dues.
    • On March 6th, the President and Comptroller of the Chicago Teamsters Local 743 were brought before a U.S. District Court judged and charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, and theft of services and embezzlement of union funds— all related to an election fraud scheme.

    Now, lest anyone think that was all the result of a full moon, or over-active prosecutors, the fact is, as ALG News has previously reported, the Department of Labor has taken up over 50 union corruption cases since January alone. And just since 2001, it has produced some 900 indictments and 850 convictions of union officials who were embezzling funds, taking bribes, and committing mail fraud, conspiracy, election fraud, as well as other blatantly felonious activities.

    And that brings us back to the case of the hapless Carla. For some reason, Carla Katz has clearly been singled out by the union bosses for “cruel and unusual punishment.” She has been ousted from her position for following standard operating procedures one would expect to be find listed in bold relief in the opening pages of any well-worn, dog-eared copy of the Union Owners Users Manual.

    So, what went wrong? Perhaps the demise of Bugsy Siegel at the hands of Mickey Cohen holds a clue. Bugsy, you may recall, had been caught embezzling some $2 million from his partners in crime, Lucky Luciano, Joe Bonano, Meyer Lansky, and Frank Costello. So, they had Mickey whack him.

    Years later, I asked my friend Tony, who had worked with Mickey (though not, I hasten to add, on that job), “So, why’d they get so upset, I thought everybody embezzled from each other?” “Maybe,” he replied, “but Bugsy left fingerprints.”

    No, life isn’t easy for Carla Katz. Now that the Governor has removed his hand, and she’s left her prints, it’s not likely to get any better.

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