Paul Pringler of the LA Times has running a great series of stories about the corruption of the LA local of SEIU. The most recent places them all in context. The basic idea is that the head of LA local, Tyrone Freeman, appears to be using union funds to route money back to his friends, family, and even spouse.
This story adds three important components. First, Freeman appears to run corrupt elections. Second, he is a "protege" of Andy Stern, the head of SEIU, and there is evidence that Stern and the (inter)national organization is covering up for Freeman. And, third, Stern has a strategy for using Freeman and his corrupt elections and embezzling to take over all of the California SEIU. If these facts hold up, it could lead to some very danger places for Stern and the SEIU.
The details from the story are all above the fold. The key point here is that these stories suggest a need to continue these investigations and examine both national and local SEIU expenditures much more closely.
The basic story is that Tyrone Freeman used funds from the local to pay his family lots and lots of money from the union treasury:
In addition to the outlays to the firms owned by Freeman’s wife and mother-in-law, the union paid a combined $219,000 in 2006 and 2007 to a video firm whose principals include a former employee of Freeman. A now-defunct minor league basketball team coached by Freeman’s brother-in-law received $16,000 for what the union described as public relations, according to records and interviews.
The union also paid about $106,000 to a firm called The Filming, for which no incorporation record, business license, address or telephone listing could be found.
In addition, he appeared to run corrupt elections:
The election of a Los Angeles union leader under fire for his labor group’s spending practices is the subject of a government review that could force a new vote because of complaints that the contest was unfair to challengers.
The U.S. Labor Department is investigating allegations that Tyrone Freeman’s union local made it nearly impossible for candidates not on his slate to qualify for the ballot, according to people familiar with the probe.
These are neat and good stories for demonstrating union corruption and why unions shouldn’t have more power over the votes to unionize by giving them card-check.
But the real story is that this crook, Tyrone Freeman, is a central part of Andy Stern’s plan to centralize power:
Trossman’s efforts succeeded, the source said. Freeman’s local continued to expand as part of SEIU President Andy Stern’s much-celebrated campaign to organize entire industries state by state. The local and an affiliate ended up representing about 190,000 workers, most of them in the field of home healthcare. …
Lichtenstein said the union clearly had an "investment" in Freeman, a Stern protege who has been a high-profile loyalist in the SEIU push to consolidate regional locals into statewide chapters. That effort is being resisted by a handful of dissidents, notably the president of a 150,000-worker Oakland affiliate.
Not only is Stern trying to give this guy Freeman power, but Stern appears to be covering up for him:
In response to the July inquiries, Trossman had issued a statement on behalf of Stern that said the union had received no allegations about Freeman’s local. Freeman denied any wrongdoing.
The source, who said he was party to internal conversations about Freeman in 2002, told The Times last week: "The international knew that there were allegations of impropriety many years ago. This is not news to them."