Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sayonara, Josie Mooney.

Tasty hears that another top SEIU official is out of a job. Josie Mooney was the top dog at SEIU Local 790 in San Francisco, a former member of SEIU's International Executive Board, and is a close ally of Andy Stern, Anna Burger, Mary Kay Henry, Tom Debruin and others. In fact, until recently, Josie served as Stern's "special envoy" to China... meaning she tagged along on Andy's many junkets overseas. In fact, she may have been one of the special few who accompanied Andy on his union-paid trip to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Readers may remember Josie for her role in an infamous SEIU scandal in 2008. Josie and SEIU Vice President Tom Debruin were part of a secret group of SEIU staffers called the "Skunk Team" that was directed by Stern to wage a smear campaign against UHW's former leaders prior to the SEIU convention in Puerto Rico. Josie and DeBruin used expensive media consultants, political operatives and even anti-union consultants to run a cloak-and-dagger campaign against former UHW leaders, who had dared to criticize SEIU's unethical practices and presented a set of reform proposals for the SEIU convention.

Josie and DeBruin's "Skunk Team" campaign was in full swing until a disgusted SEIU staffer couldn't stomach it any longer, and blew the whistle on the operation. In this sworn declaration, the staffer describes how the smear campaign was carried out, including Josie's effort to hook him in: "You can be known as the guy who helped save Andy's ass in California." You can read more gory details in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Josie later left SEIU and took a job as the Executive Director at the California School Employees Association, an independent union representing 220,000 school support staff. Josie quickly ran into problems as leaders accused her of trying to merge the independent union into SEIU. Check out this blog that captures Josie's misdeeds in vivid color, including comments like these:
"The only way we can take our CSEA back (the member-run organization that we know of and love dearly) is to remove HER. A vote of no confidence for the highest paid staffer in CSEA ($200,000+ salary – our money, our dues). I feel that she really never left SEIU. She’s just on hiatus from it while she plans to convert CSEA to SEIU."

"Josie and her crew are dictators (as you have pointed out) and they will squash anyone who brings up this topic even if its just while venting."

"Josie is driving CSEA, and she is driving us off a cliff."

"You all better get a backbone and step against the PURPLE Devil."

"We need to take a stand and stop this before it is too late. Rally the troops – we need to slay the purple dragon."

"This purple people eater needs to be cut loose fast. The Board needs to make a decision. My greatest trepidation is that they will sign a new contract with this megalomaniac."


In December, busloads of CSEA members and staff attended CSEA's Board meeting in San Jose and expressed fears about the "CSEA turning purple." Check out this leaflet about the meeting.

Well, the board eventually put Josie on administrative leave. And then, on January 15, they terminated her.

So what's next for Josie? If she were still in SEIU, she'd be heading for Switzerland. That's what happened to Paul Varacalli, who used to work with Josie at SEIU Local 790. Varacalli, who was the local's Executive Director, apparently had a bad habit of stealing money from the union's members. Meanwhile, Josie -- who was the local's Number 2 -- was reportedly continuing to live out the 1960s ideal of "free love"... with politicians and union officials alike. Apparently, one day at the union's headquarters, a staffer famously walked into Varacalli's office and found Josie doing the Big Nasty with big Paul Varacalli (and Tasty does mean "The Big Nasty").

When a group of the local's senior staff members complained to SEIU International about Varacalli's stealing, the union fired the whistleblowers, leaving Josie and Bill Lloyd to run the local. Varacalli was quickly sent into "exile" in Switzerland for three years. When he returned, SEIU higher-ups engineered a soft landing at SEIU's Purple Palace where Varacalli was given the job of "Special Assistant to the President for Pensions." (Sound familiar, Rickman and Annelle?)

Which brings us back to Josie. After getting the boot from CSEA, will top SEIU officials engineer Josie's own "soft landing" at the Purple Palace in DC? Will she and Varacalli reunite in a Swiss chalet? Or will Josie's romance with an SEIU lawyer leave Varacalli out in the cold? Stay tuned, readers!