I had the honor of serving as the secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 until my retirement in June. I would not have had the opportunity to serve in this capacity had it not been for Mickey Kasparian’s recommendation to our executive board. Not only am I a female, I am a very proud African American.

I could easily ignore all of the articles and media coverage regarding the allegations against Kasparian since I’m no longer a UFCW employee and no longer live in California, but it would be wrong.

Commentary - in-story logoOne Union-Tribune article stated that I “reported to Kasparian,” implying that I was his lap dog, weak-minded or afraid to speak up. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I am very opinionated and that despite being the No. 2 officer, Kasparian often trusted me to make decisions on my own, and we made decisions as a team.

If you were to read some of what has been said and didn’t know any better, you would think the local union was Sodom and Gomorrah, and Kasparian was some type of Svengali and that the staff were mentally beaten down to the point of hopelessness. This couldn’t be any further than the truth.

I worked with strong, like-minded individuals who weren’t afraid to take their gloves off to work, or to put up a good fight. We all got along well and it wasn’t unusual for us to interact socially, including our spouses, significant others and children.

The UFCW I worked for had zero harassment complaints during my entire tenure of approximately 20 years. I had an open-door policy that everyone in the building availed themselves to. I implemented a non-harassment training, covering all types of harassment, which employees completed annually.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

I will be the first to say that Kasparian has a strong personality. I observed him to be a man who cares deeply about his family, his staff and his union members. I’ve never observed disrespectful behavior toward women or gender bias. Quite the contrary: He always advocated for equality for women and people of color. Had I witnessed the type of behavior described in two lawsuits, believe me – I would have taken him down personally.

To imply that I as a woman – an advocate for women and social justice, and the second in charge of the UFCW – would allow demeaning behavior toward any being sickens me.

If there is one lesson that this has taught me, it is not to judge people so quickly and wait for the facts.

Rosalyn Hackworth worked for UFCW Local 135 for nearly 20 years and served as secretary-treasurer before retiring in June.

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    Sara_K subscribermember

    Not every woman had a bad experience with Bob Filner, either.

    That does not discredit those who did.

    It sounds like Ms. Hackworth agrees: if the claims in the litigation are true, Kasparian should be held accountable. 

    For those who may not have read the legal complaints, they're available via these shortened Dropbox links:

    Sandy Naranjo's lawsuit (SDSC Case No. 37-2016-00044084-CU-OE-CTL): http://bit.ly/2haTl7L
    Isabel Vasquez's lawsuit (SDSC Case No. 37-2016-00044511-CU-OE-CTL):

    Steve Reano
    Steve Reano

    My wife is a cashier at Vons for 27 years. She has enjoyed a great job with great health benefits and a pension. About 8 years ago she was accused of something and was terminated. After a long investigation it was found that she was wrongfully terminated and was reinstated. That was through the efforts of Mickey Kasparian and Rosalyn Hackworth. My wife had due process. There are so many holes in the stories of these lawsuits. We live in the United States. It's innocent until proven guilty. Let's have the same due process play out that saved my wifes job and career.

    Mark Lane
    Mark Lane

    Rosalyn, women are afraid to come forward and report sexual harassment and sexual abuse, because of responses like this. Victims are attacked and blamed by the perpetrator and their friends/associates. Sometimes, you just have to be a woman, and not a dedicated associate of the accused.

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    @Mark Lane This person is defending the character of an individual she respects. If you have evidence to the contrary, present it. If not, take your fingers off the keyboard and let the legal system do its job--which, like it or not, actually encourages the accused to mount a defense. "Sometimes, you just have to be a woman." Appreciate the insight, Mark.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Where did you stand on Dirty Bob? Did you let the legal system do its job? Or did you call for his removal? I called for his removal when Frye, Briggs and Gonzalez came out.

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    @Desde la Logan With Filner, I stood exactly where I stood on the Duke Lacrosse team and the UVA fraternity--waiting for a preponderance of evidence before forming an opinion. And, unlike you, I never voted for "Dirty Bob."

    lorisaldana subscriber

    Ms. Hackworth- first- thank you for running an office in a way that created a safe working environment for your employees. 

    What you describe sounds like a professional, well-designed HR system where all the right steps were being taken to prevent harassment through training and education. And, if it did occur, you provided an opportunity for employees to report bad behavior. 

    However, problems can still happen. Even with all safeguards in place, not all women (or men) who are harassed or abused are willing to report what has happened to them- even when they know they will be protected from retaliation. 

    In the state legislature, we had mandatory training and strict policies and procedures in place to prevent sexual harassment.  Yet when I served on the Ethics Committee in the Assembly, we still had to review allegations of harassment, and determine how to respond, on several occasions. 

    Moreover, we knew that for every complaint that was filed, there were likely other people who had been harassed- or witnessed the harassment- yet  chose to remain silent and not report the behavior. And if a person chose not to speak up- there was little we could do.

    It takes tremendous courage to speak openly and publicly about surviving harassment and sexual abuse, and to confront an abuser and seek justice, whether in the workplace, at home, or in public. It is understandable that so many survivors prefer to remain silent.

    Thank you for doing your best to prevent people from having to go through this experience. 

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    The term "reported to" is common business parlance. I always thought it referred to an organizational chart, but admit I have never  until now considered the implication that the term 'reported to' could imply "...lap dog, weak-minded or afraid to speak up" as stated in this piece. Curious what words the UFCW uses to describe their organizational hierarchy.

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Once a lapdog always a lapdog. Tired of MK's sycophants coming to his defense. For the good of the workers the UFCW and Labor Council need a thorough housecleaning.