Sunday, January 24, 2010

What You Leave Behind

I have previously reported on the efforts of Monty Kroopkin to enact reform down at one of SEIU's SoCal FrankenLocals, this one being 221 down in San Diego County. Now, anywhere you see a SEIU local "xx21", that's a pretty good indicator that the local has been merged out of a bunch of smaller locals by Our Glorious Maximum Leader, whereupon he decides who will run said merged local - and with SEIU, 100% of the time that person is somebody from Andy's inner circle, and almost all the time that person has no experience with that particular area.

And so was the case with the Stern-appointed president of FrankenLocal 221, in which Andy Stern appointed Sharon-Frances Moore to head that local comprised of San Diego County Employees, based (apparently) largely on her ability to host a quality fundraising party in the Tribeca section of New York.

Her efforts down at 221 were rewarded with "re-election" to her post as President of SEIU 221 last July. The details of that "election" merit some very specific study, in that a substantial amount of the eligible voters for that election did not receive their ballots, but almost all of the Moore supporters DID receive their ballots. But now, roughly six months after being "re-elected" to head 221, Sharon-Frances Moore has resigned as President of SEIU 221 for "personal reasons," according to the U-Trib's article.

But, as always with The Purple Plague, there's more to the story. The people who stepped in to fill the "void" left by Ms. Moore, who were also on her re-election slate last July, kicked things off down at 221 with a bang...

The Local 221 Acting President, James Slade, began tonight’s Executive Board meeting by “entertaining” a motion to “suspend the rules”. The motion passed, 7-2. Slade then announced that he, as chair of the meeting, would not recognize any non-board members to speak. The union’s constitution expressly states that members of the union have the right to be recognized and to be heard at Executive Board meetings. Although procedural rules adopted by the board may be suspended, the board has no authority to suspend the union’s constitution.

The constitution expressly provides that “The meetings of this Local Union shall be governed by Roberts Rules of Order” and “Subject to reasonable application, no provision of these Bylaws, rule of parliamentary procedure, or action by the Union or its officers shall be administered in such a way as to deprive individual members of the following rights: …The right to appear and be heard by the Executive Board of the Local Union.”

During the course of the meeting, a number of members did seek to be recognized or to make points of order, and Slade claimed they were out of order. He went further and said, at one point, that members who would not stop trying to speak would be held to be “insubordinate”. Members are not employed by the union and cannot be held to be “insubordinate.” Members pay union dues and support an annual union budget of more than $7 million dollars, and have legal rights of participation under both state and federal laws, as well as the union constitution and bylaws.

Slade also “ordered” the union’s paid staff to leave the room. They all did so, but the senior staff then returned to the room and stated that under the Local Union’s constitution and bylaws, the senior staff are dues paying members of the union, and cannot be forced to leave a normal meeting of the Executive Board. Using his new power as Acting President, Slade then told the senior staff that if they did not obey his order for them to leave the room that they would be “insubordinate”. Staff can be fired or disciplined for insubordination. The President of the union has hiring and firing power over the union’s paid staff. The staff did leave the room, under protest.

The Executive Board then approved a severance package including more than $107,000 in severance pay to Moore. The package, which was not provided to the board in written final form, was said to also include a waiver of Moore’s right to exercise her rights regarding any liability of the union.

The Acting President then informed the meeting that the union’s constitutional provision for division of the president’s powers would be implemented, because he works full time for the city of National City and is not willing to assume the president’s duties as a full-time job. The union’s constitution provides that the powers will be shared between the Vice-President, the Treasurer and the Secretary of the Local Union.

However, the position of Secretary has been vacant since July 2009 when Secretary Omar Lopez took a job at San Diego State University, and was therefore no longer a member of the union. Slade announced that one of the Executive Board members, Richard Lovett, would be “Acting Secretary” and would share the presidential powers. The union’s constitution does not allow the President to make any such appointment to fill a vacancy on the board. Only a vote of the Executive Board can fill a vacancy, and there has been no such vote.

Members are questioning if the severance package deal is “hush money” and asking if the union’s officials are trying to avoid another major press scandal over allegations of misuse of union funds.

The meeting was video taped, and members have the right to view the tape at the union hall.

The Local Union’s Constitution and Bylaws are available at the union’s website at
The above incident evidently was too much even for Our Glorious Maximum Leader to stomach...

I have received a number of complaints raising serious allegations regarding the approval of a payment to the former President of Local 221, the approval of a consulting agreement with the former President of Local 221, the exercise of executive authority at the local union, and the conduct of the local union meeting held on January 19, 2010.

In addition, charges against Local 221 based on the matters contained in the complaints have been received by the International Union.

Pursuant to my authority under Article VIII, Section 7(g) of the SEIU Constitution and Bylaws, I have appointed Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina and SEIU Organizing Coordinator Ray Dzialo to be my Personal Representatives to Local 221 to assist Local 221 in meeting its internal needs (including investigation of these allegations), and to attend local union meetings.

I have directed my representatives to report to me within 30 days on the situation in Local 221.

In the interim, I counsel the Local 221 officers and Executive Board not to
execute or implement the challenged payments and contract at this time.
So good news and bad news for the rank-and-file of 221. The good news is that even Andy Stern can be forced to listen when confronted with overwhelming evidence.

The bad news is that the folks down at 221 now have Esquirol Medina on hand to "help" them, while establishing a sub-rosa trusteeship without the benefit of even a kangaroo court investigation.

And speaking from personal experience as a soon-to-be-former member of Zombie UHW, Medina's "help" can frequently leave much to be desired.

1 comment:

  1. As the former Deputy Director of Local 2028 from 2000-2002,(before the 221 "mergers")and a 23 year veteran of SEIU, I kept in touch with some of the staff and dealings at the Local after I left. Even as I joined the parade of organizers who got bounced from the trusteed UHW last year, I have always had a fond place in my heart for Sharon Frances-Moore, a Corporate attorney with no labor experience (and man did it show--ask anyone) promoted by imperial fiat to protect and defend the worklives and futures of 15,000 working people.

    Besides her now infamous move to eliminate the FMLA from her staff, my favorite is when she was invited to speak at a janitor's rally. She looked quizzicly at one of the J4J supporters and asked, "Why are they speaking in Spanish?"

    ¡SIN VERGUENZA! And they want to give this dingbat from Mars a consulting gig and golden parachute? Stern would have better results hand picking local leaders in SoCal if he used a dart board. Flim Flam Freeman, Annelle ("My Boyfriend's Back and He's Gonna Get Some Money")Grajeda, Sharon (call the Migra! They're talkin Messican!) Frances-Moore...

    But after pissing on democracy in technicolor for a few years now, why should anyone expect that scandal and sleaze and stupidity would not surely follow?

    Good luck to the members there, and here's hoping there's plenty of fight in them as they struggle to take their Union back.

    Mike Wilzoch
    Aurora, CO


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