New York District Attorney Investigates SEIU Local 32B-J Staff "Volunteering" on Mark Green Campaign
On November 13 the Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed the Service Employees International Union Local 32B-J to hand over documents, after the DA was notified of possible violations by a member and dissident leader, Paul Pamias.
The DA's requests for documents relate to the local's involvement in the New York mayoral campaign of Democrat Mark Green. Prosecutors are gathering information on:
* Meetings with Mark Green and/or Fernando Ferrer (an opponent of Green in the Democratic primary) regarding endorsement by Local 32B-J
* Campaign contributions and expenditures by the local and its political action committee.
* Volunteer activities by union members during the political campaign.
Pamias was alerted to possible violations when he found out that union staffers might have been ordered to work for the Green campaign and to record the time spent on their time cards as personal or vacation days. He also suspects that the Executive Board took dues money out of the general treasury and "lent" it to the Committee on Political Education without membership consultation. The issue, says Pamias, is that there is no transparency as to how much money was used for the campaign and also how the money was spent. "How," he asks, "can a union which claims to be 'open and democratic' spend the members' money in secret?"
Says Pamias, "I support unions being involved in the political process, as long as the majority rules. However, the Executive Board decided unilaterally to endorse Green back in July without any membership consultation." Pamias believes that the local's members supported Fernando Ferrer overwhelmingly, as did other Black and Latino voters in the primary.