BREAKING NEWS: Union Fraud Exposed...With a Twist

Remember a year ago when a strange story hit the news about a state labor lawyer and a union organizer getting arrested for stealing $1000 worth of shoes from an Anchorage Fred Meyer store?

Jokes could be heard far and wide. The jokes wrote themselves. We know because we made some of them.

Now here is one more: The other shoe has dropped.

Not funny? Well, jokes that need an explanation don’t tend to be that funny and since our good friends in the mainstream media have dropped the ball (or shoe?) on the rest of this bizarre story we’ll explain.

The two are being charged together once again. That same union organizer(Skye Rubadeau McRoberts) faces four felony charges and that same former attorney with the state Department of Law (Erin Pohland) is facing a misdemeanor charge in a new case. It involves fraud in an effort to unionize University of Alaska employees according to court documents filed January 30th.

According to those court documents, Skye Rubadeau McRoberts, while working for the Alaska State Employees Union (ASEA) in early 2010 was in charge of a recruitment drive at the University of Alaska for employees that were not represented by a union. To form the union, 30% of employees must express their interest in joining the union by filling out “interest cards.” Those cards would then be sent to the union and filed with the Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA) who would then declare if there was enough interest to allow those employees to join the bargaining unit.

In what appear to be fraudulent petitions filed by ASEA they claimed there were 1285 employees in the unit to be organized. This would mean ASEA would need interest cards from 386 employees to move forward. ASEA’s organizer Skye McRoberts provided over 400 interest cards, thus making it appear as though the union had met their requirement. Upon investigation by the State of Alaska, it appears the union may have initially intended to claim there were in fact 1785 employees in the unit. A difference of 500 employees that would have dramatically raised the bar on the number of cards needed.

Additionally, there was an issue with the timing of the filing of the unionization petition. Charging documents claim that the business manager for ASEA, James Duncan signed a petition on February 9th, but that document never arrived to the ALRA. Instead, it wasn’t until February 22nd a petition was filed. Troopers claim that McRoberts had failed to file the petition as reported but claimed to have filed it February 9th. In order to cover and support her lie, she provided officials a copy with a forged date and a forged “ALRA Received” stamp on the document.

According to charging documents, in April 2010, after questions had been raised about the validity of the February petitions, ASEA filed another unionization petition. This petition claimed there were now 2500 employees in the unit to be unionized. ASEA provided 837 employee interest cards to support this petition. The Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA) immediately identified many of these new cards as probable forgeries.

When the ALRA decided to investigate these irregularities they took their evidence to Department of Law attorney Erin Pohland seeking prosecution. They also told Pohland they suspected McRoberts was behind the irregularities in the cards. What the ALRA did not know at the time is that Pohland and McRoberts were friends and that they often discussed McRobert’s labor organizing efforts and would strategize together. When the ALRA brought these irregularities to Pohland’s attention they also brought the labor manual that states when irregularities such as these are found that prosecution is warranted.

In what appears to have been an effort to protect her close friend, Pohland recommended against further action against McRoberts or ASEA; instead, she made a recommendation to throw out a few of the interest cards and to accept many of the cards staff felt were fraudulent.

This could have been where this case ended if not for a whistleblower coming forward.

On August 17th,2010 Alaska State Troopers were contacted by an employee of the ASEA that worked directly under McRoberts. The informant told Troopers while she was entering information from interest cards, McRoberts would occasionally come out of her office and hand her a small batch of additional interest cards. She told investigators she became suspicious when she noticed a large number of the cards were written in purple ink and had similar handwriting.

The next day the employee confronted McRoberts and she admitted the cards were fake and stated she only did so to inflate the numbers of employees appearing to want unionization and that “no one would really see the cards”. She kept a stack of the suspicious cards and showed them to the Troopers.

During the investigation, Troopers attempted to contact those employees listed on the suspicious cards only to be unable to locate some and be told by many others they never indicated an interest in unionization.

Based on this evidence, the state has moved forward with prosecution of both McRoberts and Pohland. Pohland is set to be arraigned on March 1st in District court on one count of official misconduct while McRoberts is set to be arraigned on February 22nd in Superior court on four felony counts including fraud and forgery.

Download the Charging Documents