The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in a letter last week to Local 98 members in Philadelphia, declared that the local was “not following required practices” in how it spent their money and vowed to push for change.
IBEW international president Lonnie R. Stephenson, in the Feb. 19 letter, obtained by the Inquirer, said, “I have received letters from members of Local Union 98 demanding that I take various actions in response to the indictment.”
Stephenson said two IBEW representatives had reviewed the union’s finances and provided Local 98 president Brian Burrows — one of the officials indicted on Jan. 30 — “with a list of recommended reforms and urged him to adopt them, with membership approval, as soon as possible.”
Stephenson said the changes “would provide additional transparency, eliminate potential abuses, and allow the membership to monitor the use of local union funds.”
Mark Brueggenjohann, an IBEW spokesperson, declined to “go into specifics” about what Local 98 spending practices were problematic and what changes were recommended.
“Neither the officers nor the members of Local 98 have voiced any objections to those reforms, and the IBEW expects that they will be adopted,” Brueggenjohann said in an email.
A Local 98 spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Stephenson, in his letter, suggested possible rising dissension among some of Local 98′s 4,700 members after the indictments.
“Some may be asking, why haven’t you done more,” he wrote. “The IBEW must be careful not to interfere with either the ability of the prosecutors to prosecute that case or the ability of the defendants to defend themselves.”
The federal indictment accuses Dougherty and his fellow defendants with using union funds to pay for shopping sprees, restaurant bills, and annual trips. It also detailed more mundane trips to Target for baby supplies, dog food, cosmetics, cereal, and other household items.