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Criminal Resource Manual

2407. Labor Management Relations Act -- 29 U.S.C. 186

The maximum criminal penalty for prohibited payments to, or receipt by, labor union officials, labor organizations, and employee representatives of things of value from employers and persons acting in the interest of employers whose labor-management relations are governed by the Taft-Hartley Act (29 U.S.C. § 141, et seq.) is imprisonment for five (5) years and a fine for each violation occurring after October 12, 1984, in which the amount of money or thing of value involved in the violation exceeds $1,000. For prohibited transactions of $1,000 and below the maximum penalty is imprisonment for one (1) year and a fine. See 29 U.S.C. § 186(d), as amended (1984). Violations of the statute which occurred before October 12, 1984, are subject only to the misdemeanor penalty without regard to the amount of value involved in the transaction. Felony or misdemeanor violations may be prosecuted as racketeering acts under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Or ganizations (RICO) statute (18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.).

For prohibited transfers of value made, requested, or agreed to be made after October 12, 1984, to labor union officials and individual employee representatives, prosecution continues to require only proof of a general intent that the defendant acted "willfully" in violation of 29 U.S.C. §  186(d)(2) without proof of any corrupt purpose underlying the transaction. United States v. Phillips, 19 F.3d 1565 (11th Cir. 1994), cert. denied sub. nom. USX Corp. v. United States, 115 S.Ct. 1312 (1995). Moreover, proscribed employer payments which are made directly or indirectly to labor organizations under circumstances which do not satisfy the statutory exceptions described in 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(1) through (c)(3) [compensation without service, settlement payments accompanied by fraud or duress, and delivery of goods outside the regular course of business] are also subject to criminal prosecution under subsection (d)(2) without proof of any corrupt purpo se underlying the transaction.

However, in the case of transactions involving the improper withholding and payment by employers of employees' membership dues or equivalent fees to a labor organization, employer contributions to employee benefit plan trusts on behalf of employees, or an employer's funding of labor-management cooperation committees, criminal prosecution requires proof of a "willful" violation and the defendant's specific intention "to benefit himself or to benefit other persons he knows are not permitted to receive a payment, loan, money, or other thing of value under subsections (186)(c)(4) through (c)(9) . . .." See 29 U.S.C. § 186(d)(1). Accordingly, transactions occurring after October 12, 1984, in which employer payments to the described organizations are prohibited because the parties to the transaction have failed to comply with the structural and procedural requirements of the statute are subject to criminal prosecution only where the specific statutory intent or a corrupt pu rpose underlying the transaction can be demonstrated. See United States v. Papia, 910 F.2d 1357 (7th Cir. 1990). Absent such a purpose or intent, the prohibited payments are subject to the civil injunctive provisions of the statute at 29 U.S.C. § 186(e). For a more in depth discussion of the Taft-Hartley Act, see this Manual at 2414.

[cited in USAM 9-132.010]