An official with Chicago-based Service Employees
International Union Local 73 has asked a Cook County judge to take another look
at the decision to allow the union to escape a defamation lawsuit and to
potentially sanction attorneys representing plaintiffs in that case, after he
alleged the union and the plaintiffs and their attorneys cut a deal to let
Local 73 off the hook, but never disclosed it to union members or the court.
On Nov. 17, Wayne Lindwall, assistant to the chief of staff
for Local 73, filed a motion in Cook County Circuit Court asking the court to
open proceedings to determine whether attorneys for those suing him had colluded
with Local 73 leadership to dismiss the action against the union in exchange
for attorney fees and promises of future work.
Lindwall also asked the court to punish the plaintiffs in
the case by imposing sanctions, which could potentially include dismissing the
In February, Lindwall and Local 73 were named as defendants
in a defamation lawsuit brought by other SEIU officers, who accused Lindwall of
authoring emails maligning them, and sending the emails shortly after Lindwall
was removed by then-Local 73 president Christine Boardman in the summer of
Lindwall was later reinstated to his position.
However, his removal came amid a power struggle within the
union local organization, which represents more than 26,000 workers in northern
Illinois and Indiana, including janitors, security guards, maintenance
technicians, bus drivers and child care providers, among many others. SEIU is
one of the largest unions in the U.S. with 1.9 million members.
In the summer of 2015, Lindwall and Boardman publicly
clashed at a Local 73 board meeting, purportedly when Lindwall opposed some
actions supported by Boardman. Shortly after that meeting, Lindwall was fired.
And soon thereafter, an email was received by Tonka Bradley, secretary to the
SEIU president, in which various Local 73 officers were accused of racism, poor
leadership, favoritism, nepotism, incompetence, drunkenness and engaging in
The email also alleged Local 73 officers had conspired to
According to court documents, Boardman then forwarded the
email to the entire Local 73 staff.
While the allegedly defamed Local 73 officers – identified in
their lawsuit as Remzi Jaos, Terry Barnett, Brenda Woodall and Chesca
Smotherman - asserted Lindwall authored the email, Lindwall said someone else
wrote it, giving Boardman a pretext to improperly search his computers and
electronic devices in August 2015, and sharing what she allegedly found with
others at Local 73.
Lindwall has also sued Boardman in connection with those
actions, also asserting defamation. That case is pending.
However, in the case against Lindwall, this summer, a Cook
County judge granted a motion by the plaintiffs to voluntarily withdraw their
action against Local 73, even after the judge rejected a proposed settlement
agreement between the plaintiffs and the union to end the lawsuit. Lindwall had
objected to the proposed settlement.
In the weeks following that dismissal, attorneys for
Lindwall subpoenaed documents from Local 73.
The documents allegedly revealed a “secret agreement”
including a pledge from Boardman and other Local 73 officers, including Jaos,
to pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees of $18,000 “in exchange for dismissing SEIU
from the cause.”
Lindwall’s motion accused the union and the plaintiffs of
attempting to use that alleged agreement to “circumvent” an Illinois law which could
have allowed Lindwall to offset some of his responsibility to pay, should the
Lindwall is represented in the case by attorneys with the
firm of Turcy Chute LLC, of Chicago.
Jaos and the other plaintiffs suing Lindwall are represented
by attorney Melissa Casey, of Northbrook, according to Cook County court