Teamsters: Epidemic of embezzlement 'meaningless'

Eleven union officials were indicted and eight were convicted in August on charges of embezzling union pension funds, following probes launched by federal auditors and investigators at the U.S. Department of Labor. According to a report released Monday by the department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), 84 indictments for corruption have been issued thus far in 2007, leading to the conviction of 108 union officials.

All told, nearly 800 convictions have been obtained since 2001, with court-ordered restitution exceeding $101 million, said Deputy Assistant Labor Secretary Don Todd, who announced the report's release.

In the largest enforcement effort, Jorge Aponte-Figueroa, the former president of the International Longshoreman's Association Local 1740 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling $1.9 million in union funds. He also was found guilty of falsifying records and money laundering.

Union officials were quick to dismiss the report. Teamsters Union spokeswoman Leslie Miller called the government statistics meaningless.

"Unless you look at the entire universe of (pension) funds, what does 11 indictments mean? It really doesn't mean anything," Miller told Cybercast News Service.

But Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said union embezzlements and financial misdeeds have become epidemic -- a fact the OLMS report documents and which the media largely ignores.

"There is rampant corruption -- it's persistent," Boehm said. "It's largely embezzlement, but it is no longer limited to what they call the 'historically corrupt' unions -- Teamsters, Laborers, and so forth. One of the biggest corruption cases involved the teachers union in Washington, D.C., with close to $5 million embezzled."

Indeed, misuse of union pension funds is being conducted on an increasingly grand scale. Boehm pointed out that in one West Coast case, union officials embezzled $200 million from a pension fund.

"The biggest tragedy of all is that Congress recently cut back the amount of funds being used to investigate corruption, presumably for political reasons," he added.

In August, congressional Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee succeeded in cutting $47.7 million in funding for the OLMS out of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008 (H.R. 3043).

The Washington Times reported that during debate on an ill-fated amendment to reinstate the funding to last year's level, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) accused the Labor Department's union watchdog unit of going after "people who are trying to earn a living."

The House, on a 276-140 vote, subsequently passed H.R. 3043 without the OLMS funding. The measure is currently awaiting a Senate vote.

Boehm is incredulous. "It makes no sense," he said. "This was done by members of Congress who are funded by the unions. But I would argue that if you are pro-union and a member of Congress, you should want to have union corruption probed.

"One of the main reasons why, year after year, union membership figures drop, is that individual workers are fed up with corruption. People are voting with their feet and are leaving unions," Boehm added.

Unions, however, don't see the enforcement effort as protecting the rank-and-file, said the Teamsters' Miller. They see it as government harassment, pure and simple.

"George Bush's Labor Department protects worker's rights the way George Orwell's Ministry of Truth portrayed propaganda," she said. "This is an administration that attacks working people, and it attacks them through the unions and this what the Labor Department is doing."

Nevertheless, the Labor Department pledges to continue to investigate corruption, according to Deputy Assistant Labor Secretary Todd.

"OLMS is as committed as ever to protecting union members from criminal activity by those entrusted to represent them, and we will maintain efforts to uncover wrongdoing against the rank-and-file," he said.


Teachers strike day 3, school canceled

The Cahokia (IL) school strike will drag into a third day after Tuesday passed without any contract agreement between striking teachers and resolute administrators. The only words exchanged were each side's claim that the other was not looking out for the best financial interests of District 187.

"We can't let this school district fall apart," School Board President Rich Sauget Jr. said. "This isn't about what we can afford in a year. We acknowledge that they deserve a raise. But this is about the district's long-term financial health."

Cahokia Federation of Teachers President Brent Murphy said union members are upset by claims that the raise they want would put the school system's finances in the red. He said union members have done everything they could to help by accepting a pay freeze and smaller-than-average raises in the past.

Murphy said Cahokia schools have paid triple what they budgeted to try to retire $5.3 million in debt.

"They could easily afford to pay what we're asking and afford to pay down their debt," Murphy said. "But while they say they can't afford to pay us, they are spending money on other nonessential things."

According to the union, in the past couple of years, school leaders have spent nearly $100,000 on office furniture; about $70,000 on late-model, used vehicles for school business; $40,000 earnest money to purchase the former St. Catherine's School; and $7,500 for vertical blinds and new carpeting for the school board office.

Sauget denied the board has spent money frivolously and said the items were needed to maintain the campus.

"I think we have done a fairly decent job of taking care of our schools," Sauget said. "If they have issues with money we have spent in the past, they have never brought it up before."

On Tuesday, members of both sides said they were waiting to hear from the other to restart negotiations, and nothing is currently on the table.

Cahokia Federation of Teachers negotiators offered a proposal that expired Sunday calling for a one-year contract with a 3.5 percent increase. They said if administrators did not take the deal, their bargaining position would return to their original demand of a one-year deal with a 4 percent raise.

Administrators have offered two deals to workers, including a one-year contract for a 2 percent raise and another for a 2.25 percent raise. Union members rejected the first deal with 94 percent voting against it while 97 percent voted against the second offer.

According to District 187 Superintendent Jana Bechtoldt, every 1 percent administrators give workers in the form of a pay hike costs the school system $500,000.


One-party state political insider gets a promotion

Mike McCartney, a well-connected former state senator and businessman, said he will step down as chairman of the state Democratic Party by Oct. 15 to became executive director of the 13,000-member Hawaii State Teachers Association.

His resignation is expected to trigger an election for the party chairmanship next year. In the interim, Vice Chairwoman Jean Withington, a Hilo attorney, will serve as acting chairwoman.

Former state Rep. Brian Schatz said he is interested in running for chairman at the Democratic convention in May.

Others possibly interested include Tony Gill, a labor attorney, Donn Ariyoshi, son of former Gov. George Ariyoshi, and Al Harrington, an entertainer.

McCartney will replace longtime HSTA Executive Director Joan Husted, 70, who retires Dec. 31 to take care of a younger brother who has Alzheimer's disease.

Annelle Amaral, Oahu County chairwoman, said she was not interested in the state chairmanship, but said the Democrats' biggest challenge will be the possible Constitutional Convention in 2010.

"I think watching the issues for the ConCon and where the guys will fall on the issues will be the major thing to watch closely," Amaral said.

Voters will decide next year whether to hold a state ConCon in 2010.

McCartney said the state Democratic Party, which holds almost all of the seats in the Legislature, added Sen. Mike Gabbard to its ranks in a move that was controversial.

Gabbard had led the fight against same-sex marriage in 1998 and had been criticized by Democrats before he joined the party.

"There is always tension in the party. We went through a tense internal process with Mike Gabbard that challenged who we were," McCartney said.

Schatz, chief executive officer of Helping Hands Hawaii, said yesterday that he would start surveying Democrats for support.

"I want to make sure that people can buy into my vision," he said.

McCartney was praised by Schatz, who said that the former head of PBS-Hawaii and former chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority was successful in raising money for the Democrats.

"Mike deserves a lot of credit for putting the party on solid financial footing," Schatz said.

McCartney said Hawaii's all-Democratic congressional delegation was instrumental in raising funds.


Out-of-state picketers plague Lake Placid

More than 1,000 CSEA members are in town for their annual convention and many joined Tuesday's demonstration in favor of a new contract for some local employees. The statewide union represents about 200 Olympic Authority workers who maintain the different sports venues there.

Those employees have been without a contract for five months, but some forward movement could be taking place.

Danny Donohue is the state president of the CSEA: "The ORDA administration needs to remember that their people provide services that make them look good every year. They are at a standstill now, but we understand they have been making some new offers just in the last two days."

Donohue would not elaborate on the new offers, and he didn't indicate what the union wants in terms of pay and benefit increases. But he said they will continue to push for a better pay scale, improved insurance coverage and benefits protection.

The Olympic Authority was created after the 1980 Winter Olympics here to operate and maintain the Olympic sites.

Although they have had informational pickets like this one before, they have never gone on strike.

Bill Shurter is Local 059 President: "All we want to do is get paid a wage that puts us up to be able to live in the town we love."

The Olympic Regional Development Authority said that they would not comment on the union situation while negotiations are going on, but both sides must take some comfort from the fact that the state convention being held here this week will generate about $1.5 million into the local economy.


Security guards authorize Bay Area strike

It's hard to get respect with just a flashlight and a badge, but Bay Area security guards say a fair contract would help, and they're willing to strike to get it. Since their labor pact ended June 30, more than 4,000 workers have been fighting a group of private security companies for better wages, medical benefits and training. Those contract issues lead to high turnover, jeopardizing public safety, a union representative said.

The lead negotiator for two dozen private security companies says safety has not been compromised and training is adequate. A building owner representative says the union is posturing by questioning safety and preying on terrorism fears.

Negotiations come four years after security officers decided to unionize under SEIU Local 24/7 and consolidate a "master contract" for all Bay Area employees. Union security guards protect everything from high-rises to government buildings to ports throughout the area.

On Saturday, union members voted to authorize a work stoppage if negotiations continue to stall.

"Only security officers are being left behind," said Gina Bowers, a union spokeswoman.

Security officers average $24,000 a year, $5 an hour less than janitors working next to them in the same buildings, she said.

Both sides have met four times since the contract expired and plan to return to bargaining Sept. 26.

"We're interested in reaching an agreement that's in the best interest of our employees
and our customers," said Guy Thomas, lead negotiator for the security companies, reading from a prepared statement.

The companies have contingency plans if the security officers strike, Thomas said.

"All buildings will be properly covered," he said.

Predominantly African Americans work as security officers, Bowers said.

"It's one of the fastest growing industries nationally and nationally it's dominated by African Americans," she said.

Cheri Plummer, an African-American single mother of seven, says she can't afford her private security company's health care plan, leaving her son De-Marko without adequate coverage. De-Marko, 15, needs a complicated surgery to remove a tumor from his mouth.

Plummer earns close to the $24,000 average salary as a site security supervisor at an Emeryville office park.

"I'm hoping to get better health benefits," she said. "For now, I'm gonna continue to pray and see what happens."

The union says a major player is missing from the talks: San Francisco's Building Owners and Managers Association. The group represents the building owners who hire the private security companies.

"They are refusing to take responsibility for security in their own buildings," Bowers said. "It's a historic opportunity for building owners to take responsibility."

A building owner official said the group is not a bargaining unit.

"The union's posturing for negotiations," said Marc Intermaggio, executive vice president. "It's a shame they have to tread on the public's 9/11 fears and I think that the public will see through that."

Timed with the sixth anniversary of 9/11, union officials joined San Francisco police, fire and paramedics for a Sept. 10 press conference to decry the high turnover in the private security industry. Bowers called security guards "a weak link in public safety" because of the problem.

"Safety has not been jeopardized and all the security officers have been properly trained," Thomas said, declining to comment on details while negotiations continued.


Teachers union two-faced on health reform

During the state budget battle, the Michigan Education Association last week persuaded the House not to substantively reform school employee health benefits, a plan that could save school districts millions of dollars.

At the same time, ironically, the teachers union was attempting to control its own bottom line by making changes to these same health benefits plans during contract negotiations with its own employees. These actions reveal a sad case of hypocrisy that every school board, local voter and state legislator should remember when school districts face similar dilemmas.

Many of the professional employees of Michigan's largest school employees union are represented by the United Staff Organization. The USO and MEA had negotiated a contract that provided generous health insurance for working and retired employees. Like a majority of Michigan school district workers, MEA employees are covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance administered by the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an MEA affiliate.

MEA tries to control costs

But in August, the MEA reportedly took a tough stance on the cost of retirees' health insurance known as "Super Care I," the most expensive plan administered by MESSA. The MEA held its ground, prompting its employees to seriously consider a strike. The MEA management recognized the costliness of providing insurance through its own middleman -- often at least $4,000 more per family than the national average family premium -- and attempted to control costs.

But its hypocrisy is egregious. When a school board proposes a similar change -- or any change -- to health insurance plans administered by MESSA, the MEA expresses moral outrage, arguing that any changes will hurt employees and their families.

According to news accounts from the last year alone, the MEA has stalled negotiations over MESSA in districts from Howell to Coopersville and from Gladwin to Marquette. Although districts usually offer comparable benefits that would allow them to contain out-of-control costs and spend more in classrooms, MEA negotiators are unyielding.

Union outsourcing

The MEA management apparently recognizes that its own affiliate is threatening the union's financial welfare. If its employees are intransigent at the bargaining table, the MEA could follow the route of school boards and private businesses by contracting out for services provided by the attorneys, consultants and negotiators it currently employs.

MESSA already does this with health claims, outsourcing the underwriting to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Indeed, the union has contracted for food, custodial, security and mailing services, sometimes with nonunion workers.

Yet, the MEA vehemently opposes school boards that attempt to privately contract for major noninstructional services. The MEA has even published manuals and trained employees on how to fight competitive contracting.

Now that the MEA publicly acknowledges MESSA's costliness, school boards, parents and taxpayers should insist that the union set aside its demagoguery when health insurance benefits are discussed in school districts throughout the state.

Following the MEA's lead, school boards should name themselves the holder of their health insurance policies to allow them to attempt to find comparable coverage at a lower cost. Legislators should require MESSA to release anonymous group claims history data so districts can shop around for health insurance.

Consider state aid penalty

And if a district fails to bring premiums in line with at least the state employees' insurance plan, the state should reduce its portion of the district's foundation allowance by calculating a per-pupil adjustment based on the total overcharge amount between the district's more costly premium and the state's premium.

Moreover, school employees should consider the damage done by their union's duplicitous stances on health insurance. Organizing at the local level and decertifying the MEA may protect or salvage school employees' reputations in their communities, produce better results in negotiations and ultimately serve the interests of children. Teachers in the Upper Peninsula's Burt Township school district recently took this step.

At the least, the MEA should discard bargaining and lobbying tactics that prevent school boards from doing what the MEA is attempting to do for its own employees -- keep costs in check for the greater good.


College students hang with Ohio AFSCME strikers

The Ohio University College Democrats have voted to stand with AFSCME Local 1699 in response to the twenty-four members of the Ohio University Facilities Management staff who have lost their jobs. Their work throughout our university goes greatly unrecognized, and the treatment the workers have received from the university’s administration in this matter has been questionable at best.

In a show of support, OUCD will join Local 1699 members in a picket this afternoon at the College Gate and Baker Center to raise awareness about the job cuts and encourage students to support the workers who keep their campus beautiful.


Rider University faculty authorizes strike

With their current contract set to expire at the end of this month and negotiations with administrators progressing "very slowly," unionized members of Rider University's faculty have decided they will strike if necessary.

Jeff Halpern, an associate professor of sociology and head of the faculty's bargaining team, said union members voted Tuesday and decided to authorize its negotiating team and executive committee to call for whatever action it deems necessary as Sept. 30 - the date the current contract expires - approaches.

Such action, according to Halpern, could range from "informational" picketing or a stop of all uncompensated work that union members currently perform to a full strike.

Halpern said the union and administrators have yet to reach an agreement on many important issues.

"Negotiations are proceeding very slowly," Halpern said in a statement. "If no progress can be made without a strike, then we are going to go on strike."

Talks between Rider's chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the administration have been ongoing since June. Their five-year contract had been set to expire on Aug. 31 but was extended to the end of September.

Halpern said the union represents 244 full-time and 270 part-time professors, librarians, coaches, athletic trainers, and reading specialists.

"The university is committed to a fair and equitable new agreement, to meaningful shared governance which both respects Rider's history and traditions and reflects academic governance 'best practices,' to competitive compensation, and to a continuing dialogue on the proposed contract changes that both parties have proposed," Donald Steven, Rider's provost and vice president of academic affairs, said in a statement.

"The senior administration recognizes that our faculty are central to Rider's success, and we take their needs, role in shared governance and the bargaining process very seriously. We place great value on our relationship with our faculty and with the AAUP and look forward to a successful conclusion to this process," Steven said.

Halpern noted that this is the first time the union is negotiating with Rider President Mordechai Rozanski and Steven, who joined the university administration in 2003 and 2006 respectively.

"The faculty is united in its support of the negotiating team in seeking a far and equitable agreement," Joel Phillips, professor of composition and music theory at Rider's Westminster Choir College and president of the university's AAUP chapter, said in a statement.

Rider professors last went on strike in 1974. A walkout was avoided at the last minute in 1994. In 2002 negotiations went into late October, when an agreement was reached and a strike avoided less than 24 hours before the existing contract expired.


Teamsters' sordid history of mob-related corruption

Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 743 are looking forward to a fair election this time around. In a flurry of action, Robert Walston, former president of IBT 743 resigned under pressure, to be replaced by Walston’s former Recording Secretary, Richard Lopez, as president of the local.

On the heels of Walston’s resignation, Lopez has just been indicted for stealing the last election. Three other former business agents were also charged with conspiracy to commit fraud. It is very likely that they will face jail time for their crimes. It is also quite possible that other corrupt officials will follow them.

Cleaning up the Corruption in Teamsters 743

This is good news for members of Teamsters Local 743, which has a sordid history of mob related corruption. Don Peters, who had ruled the local without holding any elections for 40 years was banned for corruption in 1987.

Robert Simpson was appointed his replacement and served as president of the local until he was also banned in 1995. The 743 New Leadership Slate was formed to fight back against this corruption and to stand up for the true interests of members.

Now all of their crimes and collaboration are catching up with them. In 2004, with the 743 New Leadership Slate winning the election, Walston used his powers as Local 743 president to call a ‘do-over’ election. Now Lopez and others are being charged with fraudulently diverting ballots from union members to friends and family who were
not eligible to vote. They are also charged with stealing the ballots and embezzlement. They stole the do-over elections and they got caught.

Teamsters Local 743 is home to about 13,000 members, many of whom have worked for years for low wages and little or no benefits. This is due to the collaboration of these corrupt union officials with the bosses. Since the era of Don Peters, IBT 743 has operated as a company union at the expense of many of its members, selling them out on behalf of the factories, warehouses, health care facilities and other companies.

743 New Leadership Slate - Fighting for the Members

New elections are under way in IBT 743, with ballots due in to be counted on Oct. 22. Due to all of the shady dealings of the last elections, the Department of Labor is stepping in to run the election. The 743 New Leadership Slate is in the running against the ‘Ford-Galvan Unity Slate.’ Jose Galvan served as vice-president under former president Robert Walston. Reginald Ford served as trustee.

Richard Berg, presidential candidate for the 743 New Leadership Slate, says, “The Ford-Galvan gang have been nothing but a ball and chain for working people in the union They’ve negotiated give-backs and sweetheart contracts for employers. Now we have a solid chance to get rid of these crooks and take back our union. We will then be able to build Local 743 into a real union that represents its members.”

The 743 New Leadership Slate is gearing up for an aggressive campaign to take back the union from the clutches of the bosses and their collaborators. The corrupt officials are now set up for a big fall. New Leadership Slate organizers are working day and night, going to workplaces and talking to workers, building their campaign to make sure that members come out of this election with a fighting union.


FOP taps outsiders for County Board picketing

A disagreement over salaries will send McLean County (IL) sheriff’s deputies and the county government into arbitration. The nearly yearlong struggle between the 47 deputies and sergeants in the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 176 and the county to agree on a labor contract was a prominent feature of the County Board’s meeting Tuesday.

While the board spent roughly 40 minutes in executive session to discuss collective bargaining issues related to the deputies, about 40 people staged an informational picket outside the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington.

Becky Dragoo, field supervisor for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, spoke on behalf of union members stationed at East and Front streets, holding signs asking for a fair contract and wages. McLean County deputies were joined by other deputies and supporters from other unions, including ones in Sangamon County and Chicago.

Dragoo said the major division comes down to economic issues and that the sheriff’s department has a “revolving door” when it comes to hiring. She said in the last five years, the department has seen 18 deputies leave for other departments.

“This is about pay disparities,” Dragoo said. “McLean County deputies are 20 to 25 percent behind other departments in salary.”

Deputies and sergeants in McLean County trail similar counties by $10,000 to $20,000 in annual salary, she said. A Bloomington police officer with five years of service earns more than a McLean County deputy with 20 years of service, she said.

Dragoo also cited disparities between McLean and other counties.

County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen said the comparison between McLean County and Bloomington is inappropriate because Bloomington has home-rule authority, which gives it more latitude in levying taxes, and the county does not.

“They have a whole different set of raising the funds to pay for their police officers,” Sorensen said. “In county government we are limited.”

Sorensen said the county has made several offers during the course of negotiations.

“We’ve made every effort to negotiate fairly and we will continue to do so,” Sorensen said. “We’ve put some really nice offers on the table.”

The two sides will go to arbitration scheduled for Oct. 2 and Oct 29.

McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery said he is hopeful the issue will be resolved during the first meeting.

“I’m certainly anxious to get this settled,” Emery said.


UFCW pickets new grocery opening

The picketers outside C-Town (NJ) have no plans of leaving any time soon. Members of Local 464A of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) began picketing the new supermarket about two weeks ago. According to Union President John Niccollai, the picketers are at the Main Street site "to let the customers know they're shopping in a nonunion store." Niccollai said the protestors would remain until the union feels its message has been heard.

"There's no time limit," Niccollai said. "We've had other pickets go on for five or six years. We're like the proverbial pit bull."

Niccollai said the C-Town picket is an informational drive, not an organizational drive. The union is not trying to start up a new chapter at the site but simply inform passers-by and other prospective shoppers of its presence.

"And then they can make a value judgment," Niccollai said."

But C-Town manager Jose Gonzalez said the supermarket simply cannot afford to join the union. The manager noted that the store has only been open for about two months.

"Before we opened up, they came in and they told us they'd like the store to be union," Gonzalez said on Monday. "We heard what they had to say."

He added, "But we cannot afford to join the union. We'd have to close the store. … If the store doesn't do the numbers we'd like the store to do, we can't afford to join the union."

Gonzalez said the union was not willing to negotiate, telling store officials "you're either in or you're not." Currently about five or six people work each shift, the manager reported. Most of the employees are family members of the owner, he added.

Niccollai sees it differently, saying workers deserve medical benefits and sick time.

With the union, "you get much more higher wages, pension plan, full medical coverage, you get holidays, you get sick days, you get personal days, you get time and a half for holidays and Sundays. You get a guaranteed 40-hour workweek. You don't have split shifts."

Gonzalez said his store would consider joining the union after it establishes itself in the neighborhood.

"Give us some time," Gonzalez said. "We're struggling as it is."


Translating ‘Variety’ Story

With the October 31 expiration of the Writers Guild's contract looming, studio negotiators will rejoin the guild at the bargaining table this week to try to hammer out a contract. Will writers start walking the picket lines on Halloween, forcing desperate actors to ad-lib fart jokes in Paul Haggis dramas? Since the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild have contracts expiring next summer, will this be just the first in a series of strikes that will cripple Hollywood, sending teeth-bleaching stocks into the toilet? We interpret today's Variety story on the coming labor unrest.

Variety says: There's little optimism that the town's scribes will reach a deal with studios and nets by the Oct. 31 expiration of the WGA contract. Most expect that the guild won't strike at that point but rather tell its members to keep working under terms of the expired deal in hopes of securing a better one once SAG negotiates next year prior to its June 30 expiration.

Translation: Studio heads wouldn't weep one single tear if every writer in Hollywood were washed into the sea, and therefore writers must team up with actual stars in order to have any leverage at all.

Variety says: Still, the WGA's not taking the strike option off the table. It's converted the members' lounge at its headquarters into a strike HQ.

Translation: Hundreds of pencils are being sharpened to lethally sharp points even as we speak.

Variety says: "The view of the companies is that the WGA has not responded to our proposal; they have not bargained in good faith," [Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers president Nick] Counter declared. "We're entitled to a point-by-point response, and they have not given us the courtesy of that."

Translation: "We're entitled to a point-by-point response to our bullshit proposal, and a bullshit proposal in return."

Variety says: "And we are surprised and chagrined. This is the first time in my experience that the other side has been nonresponsive." Asked about Counter's complaints, [WGA West President Patric] Verrone said they're nonsense and the companies need to move on.

Translation: "Your mom was unresponsive," replied Verrone, adding, "High-five!"

Variety says: Counter contends that fast-shifting showbiz economics have left the companies with no choice but to come in with their guns blazing. He cites soaring costs of film and TV, uncertainty over Internet revenues and flat DVD growth, rattling off MPAA stats showing an average deficit of $70 million per film.

Translation: Surely everyone can agree that the No. 1 problem causing showbiz companies to lose money is their reckless generosity with writers.

Variety says: "Hollywood accounting is a fantasy designed to pay talent as little as possible," [Verrone] added.

Translation: Hollywood accounting is a fantasy designed to pay talent as little as possible.

Variety says: Counter bristles at such accusations. "Our accounting is transparent," he insisted. "It's a fallacious argument to say that the revenues aren't transparent because of profit participations and audits. Because of shareholders and participants, the industry's books have to be transparent."

Translation: Hollywood accounting is a fantasy designed to pay writers as little as possible.


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