Former AFSCME boss admits to embezzling $200,000 in union dues
A former Alton labor union president pleaded guilty to transporting thousands of dollars in stolen member dues across state lines to gamble and pay for personal expenses.
A former American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union chapter president in Alton, Illinois, pleaded guilty April 11 to embezzling over $200,000 in members’ dues and transporting the stolen money across state lines to gamble and pay his bills.
Byron Clemons Sr., 35, of Alton, was charged in federal court with stealing $202,100 from AFSCME members between February 2021 and January 2022. He used the funds to “enrich himself” by gambling with the members’ dues in casinos and paying personal expenses.
“Labor unions exist to promote the interests of the working men and women who make up their ranks. But instead of promoting the interests of his members, Clemons used his position to enrich himself and get cash to gamble at casinos,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Cutchin in a Department of Justice statement.
“Tuesday’s conviction affirms the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General’s commitment to ensuring that labor organization funds are only used for lawful purposes.”
Clemons had previously served as the union chapter’s president from June 2017 to January 2022 before pleading to one count of interstate transportation of stolen money. Now he awaits sentencing on July 20, 2023, at the U.S. District Courthouse in Benton.
The Alton embezzlement scheme is not the union’s only challenge: A new report from AFSCME shows it lost close to 1-in-5 of its Illinois members after government workers in 2018 were freed from the mandate to join the union or pay it fees.
More than 65,000 employees paid dues or fees to AFSCME Council 31 in 2017, the last full reporting year before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that forced union fees were unconstitutional. That number dropped to just over 53,000 when the latest report for 2022 was filed at the end of March 2023.
And it’s not just Illinois losing members. AFSCME’s national affiliate has seen nearly 172,000 workers choose not to affiliate with the union since 2017. That represents a drop of 12% nationwide.
State and local government workers can leave their union – and not pay dues or fees – whether they feel poorly represented, object to their money going to politics or for any other reason.
State and local government employees interested in joining the thousands of other Illinois workers who have opted out of their unions can find everything they need at LeaveMyUnion.com.