On August 12, the Teamster Independent Disciplinary Officer (IDO), Robert Luskin, issued a report and detailed embezzlement charges to be filed against Mike Philbeck, the former president of Lexington Kentucky Local 651.
Philbeck was narrowly defeated for reelection in 2018; the charges involve numerous transactions he made during the lame duck period, after he lost. Philbeck has remained active politically, campaigning for the Vairma slate and campaigning unsuccessfully against Fred Zuckerman in Local 89.
After Philbeck lost his reelection bid, but was still in office in late 2018, the IDO alleges that Philbeck:
Paid himself $16,006 in duplicate salary payments, with checks cut by his girlfriend.
Purchased a nearly new laptop computer from the local for a small fraction of its value.
Cashed out points earned on the union’s credit card to get two Apple watches and numerous gift cards.
Made other unauthorized payments, including duplicate salary checks to Business Agent Ron Merrifield. Merrifield has also been charged by the IDO.
Refused to meet with the incoming officers, in violation of the IBT Constitution, and refused to turn over the union’s social media accounts and property.
The IDO’s charges were officially signed by James Hoffa on August 16. Unless there is a settlement of the charges, a union hearing will be held and a decision rendered. The final decision rests with the Independent Review Officer (IRO) Barbara Jones.
Because the IDO alleges that the embezzlement involves “fraudulent intent” – including removing pay stubs from the union’s records and having his girlfriend cut the checks – Philbeck may be concerned about potential criminal charges.
Thankfully, there is no chance he’ll be back in a position in the Teamsters Union. Cleaning up our house and keeping it clean is a necessary part of good unionism. That’s how to build Teamster pride and respect.