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.”