Lawsuit seeks to remove SEIU Local 1000 president

A SEIU Local 1000 board member asks a judge to remove the union’s elected president from power and bar him from seeking re-election, escalating a months-long power struggle within the union. an organization that represents 100,000 California state employees.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, councilman Bill Hall accused Local 1000 President Richard Louis Brown of misusing union money and having prevented the board from running the organization.

Hall alleges in the lawsuit that Brown violated union rules when he unilaterally decided to spend money on political campaigns, buy software, repay a $6 million loan to union headquarters in downtown Sacramento and giving union employees six additional days off — all without board approval and without disclosing the details to them.

The legal filing asks a judge to intervene in an infighting developing shortly after Brown took office in late June, following an election in which he ousted the longtime labor leader date Yvonne Walker.

Brown did not immediately respond to a text or phone call Friday morning when the legal filing was posted online.

Brown promised to make significant and unconventional changes to the organization and during his campaign lashed out at his opponents and Governor Gavin Newsom. He promised a 21% pay rise and threatened to “shut down” the state of California by going on strike if the union reached an impasse in contract negotiations. He immediately clashed with numerous administrators on the union’s 65-member board.

In October, a narrow majority of the board held a meeting in which votes were taken to strip Brown of his leadership powers and transfer them to Hall, whom the group chose as chairman of the board.

Brown called the meeting illegitimate, citing union rules that give the president the power to call meetings. He accused the board of trying to preserve the status quo within the organization and trying to subvert the will of the union voters who elected him.

In the lawsuit, Hall asked the court to force Brown to respect the outcome of the meeting while removing him from office. The lawsuit also asks the court to enjoin Local 1000 from paying for Brown’s legal defense.

Local 1000 is the largest union representing state employees in California, with an annual budget of approximately $48 million. Its president is responsible for leading the union in contract negotiations with the governor’s office, presiding over union operations between board meetings, and managing union staff.

The lawsuit accused Brown of wrongfully spending $46,000 to support his favorite candidates in a CalPERS board election — Margaret Brown and Tiffany Emon-Moran — despite the board taking action prerequisites to support candidates David Miller and Jose Luis Pacheco. Miller and Pacheco won the election.

The lawsuit said Brown had no power to unilaterally decide whether to pay off the construction loan or spend $25,000 on new software.

The lawsuit says Brown wrongly gave employees who work for Local 1000 six extra days off in 2021, which cost the union about $300,000.

Brown did not disclose details of several other expenses the council requested, ranging from about $4,600 to about $16,000, according to the lawsuit.

The council has not held a regular meeting since Brown’s election, and the council has not passed a budget for 2022, according to the lawsuit. At an emergency meeting in December, Brown presented the board with a spending proposal he said had been prepared by a budget committee appointed by him, and described the budget committee’s work as confidential, deviating from processes outlined in union rules, according to the lawsuit. .

At the budget meeting and other emergency or special meetings, Brown failed to follow union procedures, muted board members, and insisted on “up or down” votes. down” without debate, according to the lawsuit.

Brown’s actions constitute “repeated, continuous, and continuing breaches of his fiduciary duties, and fraudulent or dishonest acts or gross abuse of his authority or discretion with respect to Local 1000,” the lawsuit states.

Hall said Brown began retaliating against some board members who voted against the spending proposal, including launching recall campaigns against them.

“What’s at stake is the future of Local 1000 and working for the benefit of all members where the board is committed and involved,” Hall said.

This story was originally published January 14, 2022 12:58 p.m.

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Wes Venteicher presents The Bee’s popular coverage of State Worker in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. It covers taxes, pensions, unions, state expenses, and the California government. A native of Montana, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.

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