Thursday, March 9, 2017

Corruption Allegations Prompt Mary Kay Henry to Put SEIU Healthcare Michigan in Trusteeship

Notice of trusteeship posted on door of union's office
Last month, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under an “emergency trusteeship” amid allegations of financial malpractice, according to a statement from SEIU that’s posted on the local union’s website. A copy of the trusteeship order, signed by Henry, is available below.

Henry removed Marge Faville Robinson, the union’s president, who is also a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board.

Later this month, an SEIU-appointed “Hearing Officer” is scheduled to conduct a hearing where evidence will be presented about alleged corruption and improprieties.

Here’s how SEIU described the rationale behind the trusteeship in a post on SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s website. Apparently, an unknown whistleblower reported the alleged corruption. (“SEIU Healthcare Michigan Placed into Emergency Trusteeship”)
After someone with knowledge of the local reported potential financial malpractice at Healthcare Michigan, representatives of the International Union conducted a review of the local union’s books and records and found information indicating abuse of the local union’s loan and paid time off/earned vacation policy. Following this review, President Henry concluded that it was necessary to place the local into an emergency trusteeship to protect the interests of members and to allow for a full investigation to determine all the facts.

“An SEIU spokeswoman declined to comment on whether police were involved in the investigation,” according to an article published by MLive, an online news site operated by Booth Newspapers, which publishes eight newspapers in the state of Michigan. (Stephen Kloosterman, “'Financial malpractice' alleged at Michigan healthcare union,” MLive, February 22, 2017)

In comments to a Detroit TV station, Inga Skippings (Mary Kay Henry’s Chief of Staff) stated that President Marge Faville Robinson and Secretary-Treasurer Shalaya Bryant were removed from their positions while SEIU officials investigate.
"The union took steps to bring in trustees at the local and launch a pretty expansive investigation into what could have been going on here," Skippings said.
The union says a whistleblower came forward telling representatives to look at the books leading to claims of abuse of finances specifically in the union's loan and vacation policy.
"There was initial work done to suss out the credibility before we took the action we did," Skippings said.
The union won't give a dollar amount, but clearly it was enough evidence to warrant both Robinson and Bryant being removed from their position while the union looks at how long and how deep this potential fraud goes.

Henry appointed three SEIU officials to serve as trustees: Tom Balanoff (President of SEIU Local 1), Inga Skippings (Henry’s Chief of Staff) and Ed Burke (a consultant who formerly was an SEIU staff member).

Regular readers of this blog know that Faville Robinson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, allegations of nepotism and corruption have swirled about her like detritus in a toilet bowl.

For example, Faville Robinson collects an unusually fat salary from SEIU Healthcare Michigan despite the fact that the union’s membership has nose-dived from 57,239 members in 2009 to only 10,715 members in 2015. In 2015, the union paid Faville Robinson $209,889, according to the union’s annual report filed with the US Department of Labor.

The union also happens to employ Marge’s daughter and niece. In 2015, the union paid her daughter, Norma Kersting, $108,336 for being its “Director of Representation.” Meanwhile, Marge’s niece (Brenda Robinson) was paid $110,679 to be the union’s “Legal Director.” It used to employ her son, Josh, too.

In 2011, the union provided Marge with a union-paid Buick SUV. According to the union’s most recent annual report, it appears the union has continued to give her a swank car. Here’s what a note to the report states: “A vehicle provided to an Officer is used part of the time for personal transportation.”

Several years ago, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) -- an advocate of rank-and-file democracy and union transparency -- reported that SEIU Healthcare Michigan was renting a luxury apartment for Marge’s use when she traveled to Detroit.

In 2015, SEIU Healthcare Michigan received a flood of cash when it sold four buildings and properties for $2.3 million, according to reports filed with the Department of Labor.

Faville Robinson has served as the union’s president since 2008.
Andy Stern and Mary Kay Henry

In October 2008, SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern appointed her to the union’s presidency after her predecessor, Rickman Jackson, was removed from office when the Los Angeles Times revealed he’d stolen more than $33,000 from low-wage homecare workers as part of the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal.

Stern appointed Jackson and Freeman to their positions atop SEIU locals, where they served as his loyal allies while stealing from SEIU’s members. Jackson, despite his corruption, continues on the payroll of SEIU International, where he collected $138,000 as a “Campaign Organizing Director” during 2015.

In addition to her roles at the local union and SEIU’s International Executive Board, Faville Robinson also served as the President of the “Cassie Stern Healthcare Workers Education and Training Center.” Rickman Jackson named the center for Andy Stern’s deceased daughter.

In 2010, the Cassie Stern Training Center was dissolved by state officials while Faville Robinson served as its president, according to IRS records.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan is the third SEIU local union to be placed in trusteeship or under "monitorship" in recent months. 

In August of 2016, SEIU imposed an emergency trusteeship on SEIU Local 73 in Chicago. In December of 2016, Mary Kay Henry remove the president of Los Angeles-based SEIU Local 99 and placed the union under the control of an SEIU-appointed monitor, Eliseo Medina. In October of 2016, SEIU's International Executive Board held two days of hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada to investigate charges filed against the top officials of SEIU Healthcare Nevada.

More news to follow.