Friday, May 24, 2019

Breaking: Feds Order Rerun of Officer Elections at Trustee’d SEIU Union

The US Department of Labor has overturned the results of internal officer elections at SEIU Local 73 due to misconduct, according to an e-mail and a press statement from SEIU (see below). 

The federal agency reportedly ordered a government-supervised rerun of the elections to choose the union’s president, officers, and Executive Board.

Dian Palmer, who has served as SEIU’s trustee at Local 73, said in an e-mail sent yesterday to Local 73’s members that the election was overturned because of “a problem with the conduct of one of our local union staff who was elected to the local’s executive board in our last election. The identified conduct was a misuse of union data during the election campaign.” Palmer says the individual has resigned. 

Tasty’s sources say the individual is Organizing Director and Executive Board member Sean McGough. It's unclear whether he is a fall guy and whether others were also involved.

During last year’s elections, two competing slates of candidates battled for votes: one backed by SEIU’s trustees and the other (“Members leading Members”) supported by former staff and members of the union who called for greater local control. The now-overturned elections, held in October 2018, saw Palmer elected as the union’s president. Until then, she had served as SEIU’s trustee since SEIU imposed its trusteeship in August 2016.

Just days after the October 2018 election, “Members leading Members” filed a complaint with the US Department of Labor alleging 13 violations of election rules. For example, the complaint alleged that SEIU’s trustees used union resources to campaign for the slate headed by SEIU’s trustees. According to other allegations, thousands of members did not receive mail-in ballots. Here’s a link to the complaint, which apparently prompted the federal investigation.

A rerun election has not yet been scheduled.

The action by the DOL is the latest controversy to wrack Local 73 since SEIU President Mary Kay Henry imposed a trusteeship on the union nearly three years ago. 

First, a lawsuit alleged that SEIU’s trusteeship was improper. Then, in January 2018, Trustee Dian Palmer fired about ten members of the union’s staff after they announced plans to stand as candidates for the “Members leading Members” slate.

Next, in February 2018, union members filed two federal lawsuits alleging that SEIU officials had improperly failed to allow members to retake control of their union through membership elections. With a judge threatening to order an immediate election, SEIU officials finally agreed to conduct an election in October 2018.

Local 73, headquartered in Chicago, represents 25,000 public-sector workers in Illinois and Northwestern Indiana.

Here’s the e-mail sent by trustee Dian Palmer to Local 73 members regarding the DOL’s action. Note that Palmer says SEIU officials are voluntarily requesting a rerun election. However, Tasty’s sources say a rerun election was ordered by the feds because of election misconduct.

From: "Dian Palmer" <>
Date: May 23, 2019 at 1:10:58 PM CDT
To:  >
Subject: Important information about last year’s election of union officers

Dear members,

I am writing today to share important information related to last year’s election of officers. In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor has been conducting an intensive review of our 2018 officer elections. Our leadership team is absolutely committed to ensuring that each of you has a union that operates with integrity and transparency. To ensure this, we have fully cooperated with the Department of Labor in their investigation and have responded to each and every question quickly and thoroughly.

Making this union work for you is our main priority. This week, we were shocked and appalled when the Department of Labor informed us of a problem with the conduct of one of our local union staff who was elected to the local’s executive board in our last election. The identified conduct was a misuse of union data during the election campaign. Conduct like this has no place in our union. We took this problem seriously, confronted the staff person, and immediately asked him to leave both his staff position and his office. He has since resigned.

We are focused on doing everything we can to ensure that you have complete confidence in the democratic processes of this union. We intend to cooperate fully with the Department of Labor and will ask for a re-run of our local union’s election. We expect that the Department of Labor will supervise the election. Rest assured, as we work through this process, we will continue the work of our union to improve the lives of all SEIU Local 73 members.

Once we have more information, including details of the upcoming election, we will share them immediately. You can read the statement we shared with members of the media byclicking here. In the interim, if you have any questions, please reach out to your Member Action at 312 787 5868 or email

In unity,

Dian Palmer, President

Copyright © 2018Service Employees International Union Local 73All rights reserved.
300 S Ashland
Chicago, IL 60607
United States