Saying the governance of the union’s local organization had
slipped into “crisis,” the Service Employees International Union has stepped in
to depose the union’s existing leadership and appointing trustees to lead the
Chicago-based Local 73 to end “incessant infighting,” exemplified in public in
legal actions pending in Chicago courtrooms.
On Aug. 3, the Washington, D.C.-based SEIU announced it had invoked
provisions in the union’s constitution, allowing it to wrest control of Local
73 from its officers.
The national organization announced it had appointed Eliseo
Medina, former SEIU secretary-treasurer, as trustee to oversee Local 73. Dian
Palmer, president of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, and Lenore Friedlander, an
officer from SEIU Local 32BJ, will serve as deputy trustees, the union said.
According to the Wednesday release, the action was provoked
by a power struggle within Local 73 between Local 73 President Christine
Boardman and Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Brandon, that had “reached a boiling point and seriously disrupted
the operations and functioning of the Local, putting members’ interests at risk.”
“President Boardman and
Secretary-Treasurer Brandon each challenge the basic legitimacy of the other’s
authority to hold office or lead the Local, resulting in a debilitating
dysfunction of the Local’s governance process as well as causing instability
and confusion within the Local and its membership,” the union said in its
so badly that the Local was unable to conduct the July 15, 2016 Executive Board
meeting to carry out union business or hold a basic membership meeting
scheduled for the next day. The Local is mired in internal charges,
contested suspension of its secretary-treasurer and allegations that the local
president can no longer serve due to a previous announcement of retirement,”
Boardman had been considered an ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, having publicly supported the city's attempts to rewrite public employee pension rules. Those rule changes were struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court as violations of the state constitution's pension protection clause.
The internal struggle has
been played out in local courtrooms, as well, where Local 73 officials have
each accused those on the other side of the struggle of defamation and leveling
On July 1, Wayne Lindwall,
assistant to the chief of staff of Local 73, sued Boardman in Cook County
Circuit Court, alleging the Local 73 president had orchestrated a campaign to
besmirch his name and reputation purportedly in response to his opposition to
Boardman’s “proposed initiatives.” According to the lawsuit, Boardman then
ordered union investigators to examine Lindwall’s private communications,
without his consent, and shared them with other union members and officials.
Lindwall’s action came about
five months after he had been sued by other Local 73 members and officials for
allegedly maligning them in emails sent shortly after Boardman had temporarily
removed him from his job last summer.
SEIU has been dismissed recently
as a defendant in that action, but not before Lindwall opposed an attempt by
Local 73 and the plaintiffs to settle the action, according to Lindwall’s
attorney, Phil Turcy, of the Chicago firm of Turcy Chute.
While Turcy said the
national union’s recent actions in Local 73 may impact the outcome of that case
against Lindwall, they will not slow Lindwall’s lawsuit against Boardman. Turcy
said other defendants from SEIU Local 73 may be added to the action in coming
days, as well.