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Latest News - April 2011

April 1, 2011
Union Accuses a Leader of Financial Misconduct
Source: The New York Times
By: Steven Greenhouse

The Service Employees International Union has filed internal charges against Bruce S. Raynor, one of New York’s most prominent union leaders and the head of that union’s apparel workers’ affiliate, accusing him of financial misconduct.

Mr. Raynor is president of Workers United, the nation’s main apparel workers’ union, a grouping of more than 100,000 apparel, laundry and warehouse workers that affiliated two years ago with the S.E.I.U., where he serves on the board as an executive vice president.

Mr. Raynor said he had been charged with not properly accounting for $2,300 in spending on meals with a female S.E.I.U. official.

“There was absolutely no misappropriation of one penny of union funds,” Mr. Raynor said in an interview. “This is the flimsiest of charges. What is going on here is an ugly, naked exercise in political retaliation.”

The charges will be heard by an S.E.I.U. hearing officer, who is to make a report and recommendations to that union’s executive board.

Mr. Raynor said that current leaders of the service employees’ union were trying to push him out, along with several other officials who had supported Anna Burger, the union’s former secretary-treasurer, during her unsuccessful campaign against the official who ultimately won the S.E.I.U’s presidency, Mary Kay Henry, succeeding Andy Stern.

The charges were filed against Mr. Raynor on Monday, just three days after he presided over the main ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire. Workers United, the successor union to the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, sponsored the ceremony, held at the site of the factory, one block east of Washington Square, and attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and several thousand others.

The charges accuse Mr. Raynor of falsely stating that he had 10 meals, costing $186 to $275, with a male union lawyer instead of the person he had actually dined with: Alex Dagg, a female executive vice president of Workers United and one of its Canadian directors.

The charges call for ousting him from his Workers United and S.E.I.U. posts, and state that he had falsified union records and made improper personal expenses.

Mr. Raynor said he did not list Ms. Dagg’s name, as he had often done before, because S.E.I.U. officials had told her not to involve him in efforts to negotiate a settlement to the nasty turf war in Canada between Workers United and Unite Here.

“By not putting her name down, I was simply protecting her from political retaliation,” he said.

Inga Skippings, a spokeswoman with the S.E.I.U., said that the charges against Mr. Raynor were not political retaliation. “This is about the enforcement of an ethics policy that was put in place to protect our members’ resources,” she said, “and, quite frankly, Mr. Raynor can share with the hearing officer whatever he’d like to share. This is truly about our ethics policy and trying to maintain the highest standards possible in the organization.”

Mr. Raynor is a well known but divisive figure in the labor movement. He was one of the lead organizers in the 17-year campaign to unionize 3,500 textile workers at J. P. Stevens in the 1970s, a campaign that inspired the 1979 movie “Norma Rae.”

 

 


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