Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of national labor unions, ordered the removal of leaders of the local San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council on Monday and put it under a receivership.
The move prompted several local unions, including two of the largest, to leave the Labor Council and announce the formation of a new entity, the San Diego Working Families Council.
The dramatic moves follow months of turmoil in the local labor movement following allegations of sexual harassment against Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 and now ousted leader of the Labor Council. Kasparian and Dale Bankhead, who was also pushed out as secretary-treasurer, plan a press conference for Tuesday morning.
Jerry Butkiewicz, the former secretary-treasurer of the Labor Council, will help take over as a trustee of the organization. Keith Maddox, a national representative of the AFL-CIO, will serve as deputy.
Maddox told me late Monday that the move comes after weeks of effort and inquiry into the controversy in the organization. Maddox had previously assured local leaders that the AFL-CIO was not going to take over the local council.
“We worked hard to find a solution short of a trusteeship but it has gotten to the point that wasn’t going to happen,” Maddox said. He confirmed the decision was Trumka’s.
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Regarding today's news about a split in Labor, here's my personal sentiment:
Don't misuse collective resources, burn down the house, raid the coffers, try to co-opt supporters of working families with threats and lies, and then claim righteousness in creating a new organization that is actively seeking to harm and divide the labor movement. United we stand, divided we fall.
Collaborative leadership and advocacy with the San Diego Labor-Council is the path forward for our working families and communities. "To lead people, walk behind them." -- Lao Tzu
Kasparian led the disastrous grocery strike about ten years ago. It lasted a long time and many clerks never got their jobs back when it was over. The non-union groceries (see, e.g, Trader Joe's) loved it and used the opportunity to expand their offerings. The unionized stores permanently lost business and many grocery workers went away.
If this is the guy local unions want leading them, good luck.