A Little Leaven….
The recent investigations into several local and state SEIU leaders by their national leadership, the U.S. Department of Labor and others into financial irregularities raise questions not only for the largest and most important union in the United States, but for all of us in the labor movement. A little more than a year ago, the head of the New York City Central Labor Council was removed for similar betrayal and financial misdeeds. A Communications Workers of America (CWA) local president in New Jersey is in receivership, in part, as a result of a financial investigation. We know these problems are not the norm, and they harm the huge majority of union members whose leaders’ work is done with little personal financial reward.
According to press reports and the union’s own internal investigation, the local leaders were collecting salaries in an annual range of $200,000 and also using union funds for questionable purposes, either paying family members for doing union business or spending union funds for unacceptable personal expenses. In some cases the local leaders represented workers who make little more than minimum wage. The union is assessing methods of addressing the problem.