Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trustee to run Tampa longshoremen union as investigation into "ghost" worker payments continues

International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402 President James Harrell declined to talk to reporters during a break at a meeting last week with members of the union's national executive council. The council is investigating reports from the local union's trustees that paychecks were issued to "ghost" workers and on Wednesday appointed a trustee to run the union.

International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402 President James Harrell declined to talk to reporters during a break at a meeting last week with members of the union's national executive council. The council is investigating reports from the local union's trustees that paychecks were issued to "ghost" workers and on Wednesday appointed a trustee to run the union.

TAMPA — Leaders of the International Longshoremen's Association have appointed a trustee to take over Local 1402 amid claims that "ghost" workers were regularly paid for work they didn't do at Port Tampa Bay.

The union's national executive council voted Wednesday night to impose a trustee on the union, said Jim McNamara, the national union's spokesman. Wilbert Rowell, a general vice president with the union, will now oversee the local's pension and health care funds.

An investigation into the ghost worker allegations is already underway. That included a closed-door meeting at a Tampa hotel last week where officials from the union's national executive council met with Local 1402 president James Harrell and vice president Leon Chandler.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has subpoenaed records from trustees, likely for its own investigation.

The claims about ghost workers were brought to the attention of union trustees by Evan Cotten, a former union clerk who was elected as a trustee late last year. He told other trustees at a meeting that roughly 10 phantom names were on payroll records, some for five years.

Some had worked more than 700 hours in 2016, enough to qualify for pensions, holiday pay and to advance their seniority.

That would mean other workers could lose out on work and benefits. They need to work at least 700 hours in a 12-month period that ends Sept. 30 to qualify for benefits.

Using social media, Cotten was able to link six of the ghost worker to a manager who worked for Ceres Terminals Inc., a stevedore firm that operates at the Tampa port.

That manager was fired several months ago for violation of corporate policy and is the subject of several "external investigations," according to Zach Zemenick, Ceres director of human resources.

Cotten welcomed the appointment of the trustee but said he wants to see a change in union leadership.

"I think they have to do this but I don't know how much to expect from this," Cotten said. "It may be more for show than have any real substance."

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

Trustee to run Tampa longshoremen union as investigation into "ghost" worker payments continues 06/15/17 [Last modified: Thursday, June 15, 2017 4:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Apollo Beach woman dies while scalloping in Crystal River

    Accidents

    An Apollo Beach woman died on Monday while scalloping with her husband in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Crystal River, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

  2. Editorial: Trump's vague, shifting strategy for Afghanistan

    Editorials

    President Donald Trump's strategy on Afghanistan makes two things abundantly clear: He has no better idea than Barack Obama how to break a political stalemate between the Afghan government and the insurgents, and he intends to turn over the losing military campaign to the ex-generals who have chewed on this for years …

    President Trump failed to make a convincing case for deepening America’s involvement in Afghanistan.
  3. Three students arrested over BB gun at Brandon middle school

    Crime

    BRANDON — McClane Middle School was put on lockdown Tuesday after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office received social media reports of a gun on campus, the agency said.

    McLane Middle School in Brandon. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. Bill Nelson: Confederate statues belong in museum

    Blogs

    A day after saying decisions on Confederate monuments should be left to "communities," Sen. Bill Nelson changed his stance:

  5. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions

    Nation

    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]