Friday, November 17, 2017

Sources Describe Fallout at SEIU-UHW over Sexual Misconduct Scandal


According to Tasty’s sources, here’s what’s happening inside SEIU-UHW following this week's firing of Marcus Hatcher, a top union official, over his alleged affairs with three members of the union’s Executive Board:

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan held an “emergency conference call” with Executive Board members who work at Kaiser Permanente. During the call, Regan described the circumstances surrounding Hatcher’s firing. 

Until just days ago, Hatcher was the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and also served on the union’s Executive Committee.

Yesterday, following the publication of Tasty’s blog post about Hatcher’s firing, Regan convened a meeting of top union staffers and members of the Executive Committee. Sources describe the meeting, which included discussion of the sexual misconduct and “the overall culture” inside SEIU-UHW, as “intense and emotional.”

During the meeting, rank-and-file members of the Executive Committee suggested that the union hire a third-party expert to conduct an independent investigation into these issues. Top union staffers reportedly said they “take these problems seriously,” but the Executive Committee’s rank-and-file members left the meeting feeling concerned that “this is all lip service” in response to the current bad PR and “that no real investigation will take place.”

Interestingly, sources also report that a second staffer, Mindy Sturge, was fired this week soon after Marcus Hatcher got axed. Sturge, a longtime manager at the union, currently works as a “Coordinator III” in the Organizing Department and formerly served as an Assistant Director in the Hospital Division. At this point, it’s unclear why she was fired, although the timing of her firing is raising eyebrows inside SEIU-UHW.

Press: “SEIU Manager Sexually Assaulted Staffer Then Was Rehired at Another SEIU Local”


As revelations emerged about the termination of a top SEIU-UHW official over sexual misconduct, a second story hit the press about another SEIU-UHW staffer allegedly involved in sexual harassment and assault.

In 2014, Pedro Malave was removed from his job as the Assistant Director at SEIU 32BJ Local 615 in Boston over sexual assaults against a female co-worker, according to journalist Mike Elk writing in Payday Report. (Mike Elk, “SEIU Manager Sexually Assaulted Staffer Then Was Rehired at Another SEIU Local,” Payday Report)

The following year, however, officials at SEIU-UHW hired him into a management position as a “Coordinator,” according to records from the Department of Labor. Later, he went on to work at another California local, SEIU United Service Workers West.

Today, Payday Report announced that SEIU United Service Workers West has fired Malave in the wake of the publication's first article. (Mike Elk, “SEIU Fires Staffer Who Sexually Assaulted Another Staffer Following Payday Investigation,” Payday Report)

Elk’s initial article includes detailed quotes from Malave’s victim, an Administrative Coordinator at the Boston union. After one assault, in which Malave attempted to masturbate in her face, she said the following about her work life:
"I felt anxious and nauseous most of the time. I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to see him face-to-face. I didn't want to have him look at me. I just felt disgusted by the situation and the anxiety grew around the fact that it was likely going to happen on a daily basis, considering my job role at the union."

The article continues:
Later in 2015, [the Administrative Coordinator] would discover that Malave would go on to get a job with SEIU again as an organizer with SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) in California. Since then, Malave has moved on to work as a regional field coordinator for a separate SEIU local, SEIU United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW).
 Neither SEIU-USWW or SEIU-UHW returned Payday’s requests for comment.

In the article, the Administrative Coordinator expresses special frustration about Malave’s rehiring by SEIU locals after being removed for sexual assault.
Malave was able to obtain this work despite repeated efforts by [the Administrative Coordinator] and others in her Boston local to ensure that Malave would have a permanent record placed in his file so that he could never work again for SEIU.
“More than being upset about what happened with Pedro, I was really frustrated with how SEIU handled the situation,” [she said]. 

She is now part of an effort of current and past SEIU staffers “who are launching a campaign to pressure SEIU to take more concrete steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault,” says the article. “The organizers have launched an email address metooseiu@gmail.com and encourage women to contact them confidentially to share their stories and organize against sexual harassment and assault.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Source: Top SEIU-UHW Official Fired over Sexual Misconduct


Marcus Hatcher, a top officer at SEIU-UHW and a close confidant of Dave Regan, was fired during the past 48 hours due to sexual misconduct, according to sources inside the union based in Oakland, California.

Hatcher was the Director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division and was also a member of the union’s governing board and the board’s Executive Committee. He formerly served as the union’s “Director of Representational Excellence.”

Here’s what one source reports:

At a recent meeting of the union’s Executive Board, a dispute erupted among three female board members who are each “intimately involved” with Hatcher. One of the women then reported the incident to Triana Silton, a staffer at SEIU-UHW.

During the past 48 hours, Hatcher was terminated, according to a second source.

According to the first source, Hatcher is not the only SEIU-UHW official who has had sexual affairs with staffers and members. The source writes:
That being said....Chokri [Bensaid] and Dave [Regan] are and have been perpetrators of the same conduct. Sleeping around with staff and members. Abusing their power.
Marcus, Chokri and Dave would all fraternize outside of work. This is well known and documented.  Birds of a feather flock together.
Dave Regan is the president of SEIU-UHW and a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board. Chokri Bensaid is the director of SEIU-UHW’s Hospital Division and a member of both the union’s Executive Board and its Executive Committee.

In 2016, these three individuals ranked among the highest-paid officials at SEIU-UHW, according to records filed with the US Department of Labor: Dave Regan ($224,706), Chokri Bensaid ($152,860), and Marcus Hatcher ($126,011).

For many years, multiple reports have swirled around Dave Regan and his alleged affairs with both staffers and members of the unions that he has directed, including both SEIU-UHW and SEIU 1199 Ohio Kentucky West Virginia. At the latter union, for example, he allegedly had an affair with one of the members of the union’s Executive Board. At SEIU-UHW, staffers and board members have alleged, for example, that he had an affair with a staffer in the union’s Hospital Division.
SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan

Given the reports of sexual misconduct by at least several top SEIU-UHW officials, one staffer asks why the union has only taken action against Marcus Hatcher, who is African-American and has less power in SEIU-UHW’s hierarchy than Regan and Bensaid. The staffer, referring to Regan, Bensaid and Hatcher, writes:
But when their maleable bodies started sweating amidst the sexual harrasement spotlight.....the only Black Director of the Local was chosen to be the sacrifice for the sins of many.
Interestingly, the staffer reports that “there are plenty more stories” of sexual misconduct inside SEIU-UHW that haven’t yet reached the public light.

Friday, November 10, 2017

SEIU’s Tyrone Freeman: Entrepreneur of the Year



Since Tasty’s recent post about Tyrone Freeman, several readers have spotted him in Los Angeles.

What’s Ty up to these days?

Well, it looks like he’s taken a page out of Andy Stern’s “entrepreneurial” playbook.

Freeman, who formerly headed the nation’s largest union of homecare workers (SEIU Local 6434), is now running a consulting firm to help homecare companies make more profit.

No joke.



Tyrone’s firm is called Maven Innovative Consultancy, LLC. The company’s homepage has images like this:
  

And this:


But wait a sec. Tasty thought Tyrone wanted to defend workers?

Nope.

His website says,
“Mr. Freeman specializes in the defense of small business, in the full range of business matters, including advising business owners. In addition, Mr. Freeman is an Executive with substantial business development, management/leadership experience. High premium on providing cost saving management practices… operational cost saving… Maven Innovative Consultancy, LLC – a boutique consulting firm specializing in the exclusive representation of management in business affairs. A large portion of the Firm’s clients are home care agencies and other health-care related employers.”



Tyrone says he’s a “specialist” in “housing development strategies.”

That’s interesting.

When Freeman was the president of SEIU Local 6434 and also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board, he set up a housing scam that helped land him in jail.

In 2004, Freeman set up a nonprofit housing organization called the “Long Term Care Housing Corp” to supposedly build housing for low-income workers.

Only… it didn’t.

Freeman, who controlled the organization, listed the home of one of his aides, Rickman Jackson, as the organization’s administrative office. Ty then paid Jackson tens of thousands of dollars in “rent,” which Jackson pocketed.

Btw, despite stealing $33,000 from workers, Jackson is still on SEIU’s payroll to this day.

That’s not all.

Freeman also had the housing organization hire him as a “consultant” and pay him tens of thousands of dollars of the in consulting fees, according to an SEIU report described by the Los Angeles Times. (Paul Pringle, “Union-founded nonprofit spent zero on its charitable purpose in two years,” Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2008)

In other words, Freeman is quite an expert in “housing development strategies.”

Which brings us to the elephant in the room.

Why did SEIU’s top officials reportedly devise a scheme to secretly fund Freeman’s legal defense after he was indicted in February 2012 for stealing millions of dollars from SEIU’s own members?

In 2008 -- after the Los Angeles Times published a series of revelations about Freeman’s corruption (remember the Grand Havana Room cigar club?) -- SEIU officials ousted Freeman, banned him for life from SEIU membership, and ordered him to pay back more than $1 million in money he stole from SEIU’s members.

Tasty bets dollars to donuts that Freeman never paid back the $1 million.

So… why the f*ck did SEIU officials secretly give him six and seven figures to fund his criminal defense?

What role did Andy Stern play in the secret payments? What about Mary Kay Henry? She became president of SEIU on May 8, 2010 and presumably was involved in funding Freeman’s legal defense until his appeal was dismissed in October 2014.

SEIU officials are struggling with the union’s widening sexual harassment scandal. They also need to investigate the massive ethical questions swirling around the Freeman scandal. For example, did SEIU officials commit conflict-of-interest violations by diverting SEIU cash to Freeman in order to buy his silence about their involvement in his crimes?

Workers have enough problems with greedy bosses and corrupt politicians. They deserve democratic, transparent and accountable unions. It's time for SEIU to come clean.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Two More SEIU Directors Depart amid Sexual Harassment Investigation


Scott Courtney

Two more directors of SEIU’s "Fight for $15" campaign are gone, according to Bloomberg and BuzzFeed.

Kendall Fells, who was the “National Organizing Director” and “one of the top national leaders of SEIU’s ‘Fight for $15’ campaign,” has resigned, according to the November 2 articles. (Links to the articles are below.) 

In SEIU’s 2016 financial records, Fells is listed as a “Deputy Organizing Director” with an annual pay of $146,740.

Meanwhile, Mark Raleigh, who directed the campaign’s Detroit office, was fired. On October 23, SEIU placed him on administrative leave.

And… it sounds like more firings may be coming down the pike. Here’s what an SEIU spokesperson told Bloomberg:
“These personnel actions are the culmination of this stage of the investigation which brought to light the serious problems related to abusive behavior towards staff, predominantly female staff.”

The SEIU spokesperson’s spin -- that these problems were only “brought to light” during the current investigation -- contradicts reports from SEIU staffers who say the abusive treatment of women staffers has been an open secret inside of SEIU for some time.

Scott Courtney -- who was the top director of SEIU’s "Fight for $15" campaign -- reportedly had sexual liaisons with multiple women staffers who then received promotions, according to sources cited by both Bloomberg and BuzzFeed .

Courtney was suspended from SEIU after he eloped to Europe with an SEIU female staffer. He resigned days after being suspended by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

Courtney’s departure is significant. He was one of SEIU’s top international officials, serving as an Executive Vice President and a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Altogether, four top national leaders of SEIU’s "Fight for $15" campaign have now resigned or been fired in amidst a growing sexual harassment scandal. On October 23, Caleb Jennings -- the director of the campaign’s Chicago office and a former top staffer at Dave Regan’s SEIU-UHW -- was fired.  

In an e-mail to BuzzFeed, Jennings seemed to echo the reports of SEIU staffers who say the abusive treatment of women staffers has been a longtime, open secret inside SEIU. He told Bloomberg:
“President Mary Kay Henry should focus on the systemic abuse that has been going on within the institution, and hold accountable not just the perpetrators, but the many who have been complicit.”

Jennings told Bloomberg he denied any wrongdoing... but he nonetheless appears to refer to himself and his fellow campaign directors as “perpetrators” of “systemic abuse that has been going on within [SEIU].”

Not too bright, right?

Sounds like “Caleb the Creepy Bathroom Monitor” should watch a few more episodes of Perry Mason before he starts talking to the press about his culpability.

Here are links to yesterday’s to press stories:
Josh Eidelson, “SEIU Ousts Senior Leaders for Abusive Behavior Toward Women,” Bloomberg, November 2, 2017. 
Cora Lewis, “The Organizing Director of The Fight For 15 Has Resigned Amid Harassment Investigation,” BuzzFeed News, November 2, 2017.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

SEIU staffer: 'My firing was unjustified'



Here’s the latest.

It looks like SEIU’s Caleb Jennings -- who worked closely with SEIU EVP Scott Courtney -- may fight his firing by Mary Kay Henry. Jennings calls the firing “unjustified” in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times.

What about the problems of harassment inside SEIU?

Jennings points the finger at SEIU and its top officials for “the systemic abuse that has been going on within the institution.”

Here’s an excerpt from the article. (Stefano Esposito and Mitchell Armentrout, “Union organizer fired from ‘Fight for 15’ minimum wage group,” Chicago Sun-Times)
“I support the ongoing investigations and I’m against any workplace sexual misconduct and abuse,” Jennings said in an email. “My hope is that SEIU focuses on the systemic abuse that has been going on within the institution, rather than focusing on their public relations damage control. My employment was severed with SEIU without cause, was unjustified, and I am exploring all my options.”

In response to Jennings' comments, an SEIU spokeswoman said the union “can’t comment on HR-related matters, or any details regarding our ongoing internal investigation,” according to the Sun-Times.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Details emerge on SEIU staffer fired in ongoing harassment investigation


Caleb Jennings

The SEIU staffer who was fired yesterday in connection with a widening harassment investigation is Caleb Jennings, says an anonymous source. Meanwhile, Mark Raleigh is the SEIU staffer who was placed on administrative leave.

This afternoon, BuzzFeed News confirmed this information. (Cora Lewis, “The Lead Chicago Organizer Of The Fight For 15 Has Been Fired Amid A Harassment Investigation,” BuzzFeed News)

Jennings told BuzzFeed:
"My employment was severed with SEIU on Monday."

Yesterday, top SEIU officials said they took action against two unnamed staffers in an announcement related to a widening investigation initially focused on SEIU Executive Vice President Scott Courtney. Also yesterday, Courtney resigned after being suspended a week earlier by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry amid allegations of a history of sexual relationships with young women staffers.


Today, an anonymous source told Tasty that:
Jennings and Raleigh fancied themselves "mini-Scott Courtneys" and relished bullying people and trying to intimidate them (especially women). Jennings was known to blow up on people and even once shoved a staffer into the wall.

Last year, Jennings earned a total of $148,955 as an “Organizing Coordinator 3” at SEIU, according to financial records filed by SEIU with the US Department of Labor. In 2016, Raleigh earned $147,144 as a “Deputy Campaign Director” at SEIU. Raleigh reportedly serves as the director of SEIU’s “Fight for $15” campaign in Detroit.

Prior to taking a job in SEIU’s “Fight for $15” campaign, Jennings was an Assistant Director of the Hospital Division at SEIU-UHW, headed by Dave Regan, who himself has confronted allegations of sexual misconduct and violence, including a physical assault against a court employee documented by a local police department in California. Regan reportedly embraces “old school” tactics of threats, intimidation and “ass-whipping” in workplace organizing, leading to lawsuits and even allegations of death threats.

In recent months, a 28-year-old woman organizer for “Fight for $15” reportedly won more than $20,000 in back pay after Caleb Jennings wrongfully terminated her from her job as an organizer with “Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago” (WOCC), a Chicago affiliate of SEIU’s “Fight for $15” campaign. That news comes from an August 25, 2017 article published by libcom.org, an online site, and is also discussed in today's BuzzFeed article. (“Outsourced SEIU union organizer wrongfully terminated for organizing at work,” libcom.org)

Jennings reportedly served as WOCC’s Director. An NLRB judge ordered SEIU to reinstate the organizer, Gönül Düzer, to her job. She declined, however, telling the online site that “I wouldn't want to work for someone who assaulted me.”

BuzzFeed describes the incident this way: Jennings “became violent, ripping [Düzer’s] work phone out of her hands and subsequently shoving her against a door frame.”

NLRB records reviewed by Tasty confirm that in June of 2016 Ms. Düzer filed an “unfair labor practice” charge against Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (NLRB Case Number 13-CA-179335). Two NLRB records indicate the case was closed in May of 2017 following an out-of-court settlement between Ms. Düzer and SEIU, the terms of which were not disclosed in those records.

In 2016, says libcom.org, more than 50 employees of three Chicago-area SEIU locals wrote a letter to top SEIU officials -- including Tom Balanoff and Keith Kelleher -- stating that Jennings “has made himself well known for creating a toxic work environment. This has led to a high turnover among staff. Gönül will be the third woman to resign or be fired within the last 2 weeks.” The letter also alleges that Jennings “attacked an immigrant and a woman of color, exactly the workers which the FF15’s success depends on.”

BuzzFeed News cites sources connecting Courtney to Jennings and Raleigh:
Both Jennings and Raleigh reported to Courtney, an SEIU source confirmed, and former SEIU staff alleged to BuzzFeed News that he protected them from consequences.

In 2010, Tasty reported an account of two women at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Oakland, California who described how Caleb Jennings -- who then worked for Regan’s SEIU-UHW -- followed them to the women’s bathroom and waited outside to monitor them, which earned Jennings the nickname of “Caleb the Creepy Bathroom Monitor.”