Earlier this year, I wrote about the indictment of the owners of a union construction company that was improperly operating a double breasted (a union firm and a related non-union firm) operation. That indictment alleged that the owners of the union firm failed to pay union members fringe benefits and wages when the union employees worked for the non-union firm. As I said in that post, it should be concerning that these allegations led to a criminal indictment because usually these types of allegations were dealt with in civil suits brought by the union.
This past week the U.S. Attorneys Office in Chicago announced the indictment of executives of a construction company for, among other things, failing to pay fringe benefits owed to union health, welfare, and pensions funds. This type of wrongdoing was also usually dealt with a civil lawsuit brought by the union health and welfare funds against the contractor that owed the money to the funds.
Union contractors with obligations to health and welfare funds need now need to worry that failing to pay the union funds could result in more than a simple collection action in federal court. These two cases signal it could mean jail time.