Monday, February 20, 2012

Sticky Fingers at SEIU Local 1877

A tipster alerted Tasty to a troubling case of skyrocketing SEIU salaries that may be connected to a staffer’s romantic connection to a top union official. It’s happening at SEIU Local 1877, which represents low-wage janitors in California and is headed by President Mike Garcia, who also serves on SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Here’s what’s going on. Back in 2005 and 2006, a staffer named Carmen Bojorquez earned modest pay of $27,000 a year as Garcia's Executive Secretary. Here’s how Local 1877 reported her pay in annual financial reports submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor. (Bojorquez's total pay is in the right-hand column. Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Source: SEIU Local 1877's DOL Form LM-2 for 2005

Source: SEIU Local 1877's DOL Form LM-2 for 2006

 Then, in 2007, her annual pay rocketed to $186,906 even though her job title remained the same.

Source: SEIU Local 1877's DOL Form LM-2 for 2007

In 2008, it jumped even higher – to almost $200,000.

Source: SEIU Local 1877's DOL Form LM-2 for 2008

And in 2009, it rocketed to nearly a quarter million dollars!

Source: SEIU Local 1877's DOL Form LM-2 for 2009
What’s going on? Insiders offer two possible explanations. First, Bojorquez just happens to be married to a top union official named David Stilwell, who’s Mike Garcia’s right-hand man. Insiders say that Stilwell -- whose job title is “Assistant to the President” -- may have rigged a special pay deal for his wife.

The second explanation is this: the large payments may have been a way for Garcia to funnel large quantities of money to a travel agency connected to Garcia’s wife. Workers report that the union has steered lots of business to the travel agency over the years. But many of the reported transactions don't seem to appear on the union’s financial reports. Transferring money to the travel agency via Bojorquez may have been a way to do an end-run around the federal government's reporting requirements.

Whatever the case, this situation needs some serious investigation… including lots of questions for Eddie “Wrong Number” Iny, who was serving as the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Service Workers West, the umbrella organization overseeing Local 1877, at the time of the payments.

P.S. Readers can view the union’s LM-2s at this website by plugging in the union’s “File Number,” which is 521-501, and selecting “LM-2” at the bottom of the page.