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Latest News - April 2011

April 26, 2011
Bruce Raynor leaving Workers United, SEIU
Source: Crains New York
By: Daniel Massey

The Workers United president relinquished his role at the 150,000-member garment workers union, as well as his position as executive vice president of its parent body, the Service Employees International Union.

Facing internal charges that he misappropriated union funds, Bruce Raynor agreed Monday to step down as president of Workers United—a nearly 150,000-member New York City-based garment workers union—and as executive vice president of its parent body, the Service Employees International Union.

Earlier this month, Mr. Raynor resigned as chairman of labor-owned Amalgamated Bank, though he remains on the bank's board and executive committee. The agreement with SEIU allows Mr. Raynor to keep his position with the $4.5 billion-asset bank and his chairmanship of the Amalgamated Life Insurance Co. and several union-affiliated health and pension funds.

Noel Beasley, Mr. Raynor's replacement as bank chairman, will also take his place as president of Workers United, pending a vote later on Tuesday by the union's executive board, labor sources said. Mr. Beasley, an ally of Mr. Raynor, is an executive vice president of Workers United and heads the union's Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board. Mr. Raynor's resignations take effect May 7.

The agreement, first reported Monday night by Politico, could end a contentious period for organized labor. A failed marriage between the garment workers and hotel workers resulted in a bitter split and led Mr. Raynor last year to bring his workers into the large and powerful SEIU. But after former president Andy Stern resigned and his preferred replacement, Anna Burger, was defeated by Mary Kay Henry, Mr. Raynor quickly fell out of favor with top union officials.

Earlier this month, SEIU accused Mr. Raynor of failing to properly account for about $2,300 in spending on meals. The union said Mr. Raynor wrote on expense reports that he ate 10 meals with a male union lawyer and not the female executive vice president of Workers United with whom he had actually been dining.

At the time, Mr. Raynor denied wrongdoing and said the charges were “political retaliation” for his support of Ms. Burger. A labor source said that Mr. Raynor signed the separation agreement because he felt he needed to protect Workers United members from being dragged into another ugly fight.

Mr. Raynor issued a statement through a spokeswoman in which he said that he repaid $2,316.03, even though he felt he did nothing wrong. “I now feel that there are other ways for me to serve working people rather than continuing my current role in both SEIU and Workers United,” he said. “My resignation from these offices will in no way reduce my dedication to the principles for which the labor movement stands and for which I have fought my entire adult life.”

An SEIU spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is possible that the agreement won't end the battle. Mr. Raynor continues to have support of at least half of the Workers United executive board, and it is conceivable, labor insiders said, that he will try to pull some of his members out of SEIU. It would be a risky move, as there's no obvious landing spot for Mr. Raynor, and the union would not have much power if it went out on its own.



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