SEIU: Leadership Through Example
|AS THE SCANDALS surrounding the appointed leadership of California locals
continue to unfold, the International’s damage control and spin-meisters are
working feverishly to guide the attention and focus away from the top of the
SEIU food chain. But just how effective this misdirection has been is not
There is mounting evidence of financial malfeasance of SEIU appointed local
leadership in California with connections as far away as Michigan. A typical
rank and filer can only ponder at the root cause of this cavalier philosophy
of leadership, and contend with mounting evidence as to its origin.
Just where, do you suppose, that these appointed leaders got the idea that
they can do as they please with our hard-earned resources? Where did they
get the idea that they could abuse our trust and get away with it? Did
anyone within the SEIU Administration imply or insinuate that they would be
insulated from any internal investigation of these kinds of activities or
that the International would look the other way if “internal charges” were
Let’s take a look at some of the available evidence (U.S. Department of
Labor records) and see if we can’t identify some connections as to how this
kind of leadership philosophy took hold.
The Family and Friendship Connection
The use of family members to provide “paid services” to the union is
nothing new, provided that the relationship is disclosed to the appropriate
agencies and the membership. As with the upper level of administration, this
connection is established at a more “indirect or less obvious” manner.
Let’s take David Kieffer, a Union Director for SEIU. His wife, Pamela
Kieffer received $70, 000 in union fees from a firm that provided
recruitment services to SEIU. Who did they recruit and for what did they
recruit? Why wasn’t there an open bidding process among other qualified
firms for these services? (A spokeswoman said no bidding process is required
when “such” contracts are awarded).
Judith Scott, who is Outside Counsel for SEIU is married to Don Stillman
(Notice that they used different last names). Don Stillman received $210,000
in consulting fees from SEIU. Was this in addition to what , his wife,
Judith Scott was paid for her legal services? What is Don Stillmans’ area of
expertise that warranted this “service”?
Eileen Kirlin, who is a Union Director for SEIU, is married to Steve
Rosenthal (who is “coincidentally” a friend of Andy Stern). Rosenthal
co-founded a consulting firm that received $520, 000 and he also heads an
organization called “America Coming Together”, which received $23 million
from SEIU. Friendship is truly a wonderful thing. In SEIU’s case, it is also
a very profitable thing.
Kirk Adams, who is an aide to Andy Stern, is married to Cecil Richards.
Cecil Richards heads an organization called “America Votes”, which received
$3 million from SEIU.
Melissa Mullinax was an SEIU political director when the political
consulting firm she held a 20%-to-25% stake in, The Edison Group, was paid
more than $1 million, including expenses. In addition, the SEIU has spent
about $41,000 on a graphic design company owned by Mullinax's husband, Jason
The Local Leadership
Stern’s inner circle showed the up and coming labor leaders in California
how the real world really operates. Like good students and disciples, they
hit the ground running the first opportunity they got.
Annelle Grajeda, took over Sal Rosselli’s spot on the California Executive
Council, was given a spot on the International Executive Board and was
appointed the President of one of California’s biggest locals, Local 721.
After charges of financial malfeasance regarding a former legacy local 660
president (and former boyfriend), Alejandro Stephens, she is now on paid
administrative leave. That didn’t take long, did it?
Rickman Jackson, also a Stern insider, who was an appointed head of
Michigan’s biggest SEIU local, found himself stepping down from his
appointed post because of his ties to a spending scandal at the parent
organization's leading California chapter. Rickman Jackson has agreed to
return $33,500, will no longer serve on the SEIU's executive board and is
cooperating with a federal criminal investigation of the Los Angeles-based
chapter and other locals. (Theft is theft, whether you return the money or
not). He previously served as chief of staff to the president of the L.A.
chapter, Tyrone Freeman.
Tyrone Freeman, who is also an SEIU insider, was appointed the head of
Local 6434 and is now the subject of a Department of Labor (DOL)
investigation involving the use of his locals’ money being used to benefit
firms owned by his family (sound familiar?), spent nearly $10,000 last year
at the Grand Havana Room, the Beverly Hills cigar lounge and listed them as
“accommodations”. The Grand Havana Room has no other rooms. Indeed, the list
of improprieties that Mr. Freeman faces, would encompass a much more
In an effort to garner support for their leader, Tyrone Freeman, the
loyalist staff members of Local 6434 retaliated against their own for not
signing a statement in support of Mr. Freeman. This prompted yet another
investigation. Retaliation? For not “getting with the program”? Where do you
suppose the Freeman loyalists of 6434 got THAT idea from? [Does, the
trusteeship attempts of United HealthCare Workers West (UHW-W) ring a bell?]
There are just too many parallels that exist in these situations, to
ignore. As a rank and filer, it is astounding to think that these appointed
Local leaders pulled these practices out of thin air. They got these ideas,
practices and ways of leadership from somewhere. The fact that these Local
leaders acted with impunity is the most alarming thing about this whole
mess. But then, again, you must consider the source.
When you ask, the International about THEIR practices, the reply is, “there
was nothing improper about any of the payments”. But if you put these
practices into the greater scheme of things and follow the evolution and
current results, can you honestly and credibly say the no harm was done to
the members or the labor movement?
SEIU’s integrity is taking quite a beating here. Honesty is in the
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Trust has just been placed on Life Support.
Union democracy is about to go under the knife and we’re still searching for
Accountability at the crash site.
The catchy catch-phrases, honey-dipped logos and deceptive sloganeering is
just not cutting it anymore. This is not going to fly during a Congressional
investigation, an FBI investigation or a DOL investigation.
What is wrong with SEIU is not something that can be fixed with a spin,
throwing more money around or a scapegoat.
The members now have to stand up, step up and above all, step in.
After all.... IT’S OUR UNION!
Dan Mariscal, Steward, SEIU trustee Local 347
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