Here’s another story to show us how terribly tragic the decline of American unions is.
A few years ago, some officers of the Boston local of the longshoreman’s union figured out a great way to give their kids a leg up should they choose to enter the family business when they grew up. They started putting their kids on the public payroll when the kids were very young, very briefly. This didn’t really add up to much (a few hours of payroll fraud), but it had an incredible long-term benefit — it got the kids on the union rolls. So, when they grew up and got a longshoreman job when they were 18, they officially had well over a decade of seniority — and a huge leg up on their peers.
Well, that little racket got busted about two years ago. But now one of the guys has finally come to justice.
Brendan Lee has pleaded guilty to putting his four-year-old son on the union payroll as a “heavy equipment operator.” Lee also collected unemployment benefits while working — for the state as a lawyer for indigent defendants.
For this grotesque fraud, the judge threw the book at Lee. Not only did he have to repay the unemployment benefits he collected, but he also has to serve four weeks of weekend house arrest AND serve two years of probation.
I only hope he can survive this absolutely draconian sentence, and can rejoin society as a productive member.
Personally, I’d have docked him for the benefits plus interest, gotten him to plead guilty to either fraud or violating child labor laws, ordered the union to strip him of seniority equal to double the time he’d won for his son, stripped the son of his union membership, AND tossed his ass in jail for at least a year. He’s a lawyer — he needs to be held to a higher standard.
One actual good benefit, though. From now on, the union will no longer be handling the workers’ time sheets and paychecks — Massport now controls the time sheets, and requires the individual workers to sign for them.
This, in theory, should cut down on union officials padding the payroll and union rolls with their very young children. But then again, if any group of people could be counted on to not notice that the guy signing for his check is using a crayon and needs to stand on a chair to reach the desk, it’d have to be a Massachusetts bureaucrat.