Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Purple Palace Imposes Trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago

Eliseo Medina, Trustee
Today, SEIU International imposed an “emergency trusteeship” on SEIU Local 73 “to protect the local’s members from serious collapse in the local’s leadership and governance,” according to an SEIU press release and the Chicago Tribune (“Infighting at SEIU Leads to ‘Collapse of Leadership,’ Removal of Top Officers”).

The local represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Here’s why SEIU says it seized control of the local:
Immediate action was required because incessant infighting between Local 73’s top elected officers, President Christine Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Brandon, reached a boiling point and seriously disrupted the operations and functioning of the Local, putting members’ interests at risk…
Serious charges and accusations between the Local’s two top officers caused an egregious breakdown in governance. President Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Brandon each challenge the basic legitimacy of the other’s authority to hold office or lead the Local, resulting in a debilitating dysfunction of the Local’s governance process as well as causing instability and confusion within the Local and its membership.
Circumstances deteriorated so badly that the Local was unable to conduct the July 15, 2016 Executive Board meeting to carry out union business or hold a basic membership meeting scheduled for the next day. The Local is mired in internal charges, contested suspension of its secretary-treasurer and allegations that the local president can no longer serve due to a previous announcement of retirement.
Christine Boardman, former president of SEIU Local 73

Boardman also serves on the SEIU International Executive Board in Washington DC.

According to the Cook County Record (“SEIU Chicago Leadership Deposed by National Union”), additional controversies also are at play. It reports:
[SEIU Local 73 President Christine] Boardman had been considered an ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, having publicly supported the city's attempts to rewrite public employee pension rules. Those rule changes were struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court as violations of the state constitution's pension protection clause.
The internal struggle has been played out in local courtrooms, as well, where Local 73 officials have each accused those on the other side of the struggle of defamation and leveling false accusations.
On July 1, Wayne Lindwall, assistant to the chief of staff of Local 73, sued Boardman in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging the Local 73 president had orchestrated a campaign to besmirch his name and reputation purportedly in response to his opposition to Boardman’s “proposed initiatives.” According to the lawsuit, Boardman then ordered union investigators to examine Lindwall’s private communications, without his consent, and shared them with other union members and officials.
Lindwall’s action came about five months after he had been sued by other Local 73 members and officials for allegedly maligning them in emails sent shortly after Boardman had temporarily removed him from his job last summer.
Boardman supported Rahm Emanuel in mayoral election
SEIU has been dismissed recently as a defendant in that action, but not before Lindwall opposed an attempt by Local 73 and the plaintiffs to settle the action, according to Lindwall’s attorney, Phil Turcy, of the Chicago firm of Turcy Chute.
While Turcy said the national union’s recent actions in Local 73 may impact the outcome of that case against Lindwall, they will not slow Lindwall’s lawsuit against Boardman. Turcy said other defendants from SEIU Local 73 may be added to the action in coming days, as well.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times (“Civil War Triggers Trustee Takeover at Emanuel-Allied Union”), the trusteeship represents “a bit of a blow to [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel” because Local 73, which represents 14,000 City of Chicago employees, has backed Emanuel in recent elections.
Last year, SEIU Local 73 filed a “cease-and-desist” request asking that SEIU Health Care stop bankrolling the campaign of vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Local 73 was determined to enforce a “neutrality vote” that had been taken by the union’s state council.

Eliseo Medina, who served as a trustee of SEIU-UHW in 2009 alongside Dave Regan, has been appointed as Local 73’s trustee. 

Dian Palmer (President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin) and Lenore Friedlander (from SEIU Local 32BJ in New York) have been appointed as “Deputy Trustees.”

Local 73’s officers and Executive Board have been removed from office. In 2015, SEIU Local 73 President Christine Boardman was paid $202,714 while Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Brandon received $147,450, according to records from the US Department of Labor.