New Front Opened Against SEIU-UHW Trustee

On July 16, 2010, several UHW members filed suit in federal district court against the embattled SEIU-UHW trustee in an attempt to bring the trusteeship to an immediate end. (Dimenco v. SEIU, N.D. Cal., No. 4:10-cv-03112). Exactly eighteen months earlier, SEIU International placed the California mega-local UHW into trusteeship following allegations of impropriety by the local's then-leaders. Since that time, the local has been governed by several SEIU International-appointed officials pursuant to SEIU's constitution and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Section 464 of the LMRDA, however, creates a presumption that any union trusteeship will cease after eighteen months, absent "clear and convincing proof that the continuation of the trusteeship is necessary for a purpose allowable under Section 462." "Allowable purposes" under the LMRDA is defined broadly to include "carrying out the legitimate objects of such labor organization."

The same day UHW members filed suit, SEIU International's recently elected leader, Mary Kay Henry, issued a letter to the UHW trustee, David Regan, extending the trusteeship until at least early 2011, and laying out a timeline for elections for new UHW leaders. In Ms. Henry's letter, she cites the ongoing activities of NUHW and the disorder left by UHW's former leaders as justifications for the continued trusteeship, among other reasons.

The UHW members suing to invalidate the trusteeship are represented by the Oakland law firm of Siegel and Yee, which also served as counsel for NUHW in its previous district court battle with SEIU-UHW. In that case, Service Employees International Union v. Rosselli, ND California, No. 3:09-cv-00404,  a jury awarded SEIU-UHW  $1.5 million against NUHW and several of its leaders.

This entry was written by Robert Hennessy.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.