Archive for April, 2018

UFCW Bosses Should Resign

From newsrooms to boardrooms, from college campuses to church campuses, and from Hollywood studios to the halls of Congress, powerful men are being called to account for alleged sexual misconduct. But somehow, Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers International vice president, has managed to keep his job in spite of the scandal swirling around him. Both Kasparian (who is also the president of UFCW Local 135) and Marc Perrone, the UFCW International president, have handled the scandal very poorly; and both of them – leaders of a union in which women make up a majority – should resign.

Kasparian’s scandal began in December of 2016 when Sandy Naranjo, a former UFCW employee, accused him of gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. In her lawsuit, Naranjo alleged that “Kasparian created a work environment that was particularly hostile toward women”; she had previously viewed her job as a “dream job.”

Just days after the first lawsuit was filed, a second former UFCW employee, Isabel Vasquez, broke her silence and accused Kasparian of something much worse – demanding she have a sexual relationship with him. Fearing for her job, she had complied with his humiliating demands, eventually retiring early. Kasparian kept an inappropriate picture of Vasquez behind his desk, and only removed it around the time she filed her lawsuit.

In April of 2017, a third former UFCW employee, Anabel Arauz, filed a lawsuit against Kasparian alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In her lawsuit, Arauz referred to the union and Kasparian’s “demonstrated animus, bias, and discriminatory intent/conduct against women.” Last December, Melody Godinez, who is an SEIU member and a union executive board member, filed a lawsuit against Kasparian alleging that he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. At her deposition, Godinez expressed a fear of Kasparian, whom she once viewed “as a friend and mentor.”

It appears that the allegations against Kasparian have been costly. It was recently reported that the legal expenses for Kasparian’s union local were more than four times higher than usual this past year. In recent years, his union has spent an average of $203,000 on legal representation; last year, it spent over $829,000. At the same time, the amount of money the union spent representing its members was lower last year than it has been in more than a decade.

Earlier this month, Perrone, the UFCW International president, responded to a UFCW member who wrote an open letter to him begging him to take action against Kasparian. In his reply, Perrone made it clear that he has no intention of lifting a finger to oust Kasparian. Instead, Perrone made excuses, writing, “You have made suggestions that the International can freely remove a local union president based on accusations made by others… Please understand, the UFCW International Union does not have this authority.”

Perrone is trying to mislead with his statement. He would like for us to believe that there is nothing that the International Union can do, but that is not the case at all. In fact, according to the UFCW International Constitution, the UFCW Executive Committee has the authority to both suspend and remove any officer “whenever the activities of any… officer of a chartered body involve, in the judgment of the International Executive Committee, an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body…”

After more than a year’s worth of embarrassing headlines and protests, it seems that Kasparian’s scandals are sufficiently serious to enable the Executive Committee to punish him. Just who is on this Executive Committee which has the authority to decide whether or not to suspend or remove union officers? Perrone and four other UFCW International officers. So if Perrone wanted to fire Kasparian, he would only need two of the other four members of the Executive Committee to vote with him.

For the good of UFCW members, both Kasparian and Perrone should resign. Kasparian, already a divisive labor figure, has been accused of discrimination and/or sexual harassment by multiple Hispanic women from the labor movement; his union has paid enough to settle lawsuits against him already. For over a year, Perrone has refused to take action against Kasparian, and now Perrone has tried to mislead claiming that his hands are tied. His inaction and dishonesty make him unfit to lead.

From newsrooms to boardrooms, from college campuses to church campuses, and from Hollywood studios to the halls of Congress, powerful men are being called to account for alleged sexual misconduct. But somehow, Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers International vice president, has managed to keep his job in spite of the scandal swirling […]






Is UFCW Leadership Just a Bad Boys Club?

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to Lopez’s letter,  Perrone explains that he’s going to keep doing what he’s been doing about Kasparian’s scandal: nothing.

What are Perrone’s excuses? Perrone claims that the UFCW International Union doesn’t have the authority to “remove a local union president based on accusations made by others.” Perrone also tries to claim that the union’s hands are tied by federal law, which prohibits the use of union funds to help a particular candidate for union office. If that’s really the reason Perrone’s doing nothing, then what was his excuse last year when there was no election?

Perrone must think his members are stupid; his excuses just aren’t credible. If he truly wanted Kasparian gone, there are steps that he could take to get rid of him. After spending over three years as the UFCW International president, Perrone has to know that the UFCW International Union constitution lays out the process for suspending and removing a problematic officer (at Article 9, section G).

Whenever the activities of any member or officer of a chartered body involve, in the judgment of the International Executive Committee, an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body, the International Executive Committee is authorized to assume original jurisdiction in such matter… Under such circumstances, the International Executive Committee may suspend the person from membership or office, but it shall be required to accord such member or officer a hearing… Following such hearing, the International Executive Committee is authorized to take such disciplinary action as the circumstances warrant, including removal from office…

After over a year of embarrassing headlines, it seems that Kasparian’s scandals could reasonably be considered “an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body.” It should also be noted that the UFCW International Executive Committee only consists of five people, and Perrone is one of them. (The others are Esther Lopez, Paul Meinema, Stuart Appelbaum, and Shaun Barclay.) So if Perrone wanted to suspend or fire Kasparian, he’d only need two of the other four members of the executive committee to vote with him.

But even if the other members of the Executive Committee loved Kasparian and refused to lift a finger to remove him, there are still things that Perrone could do to try to get rid of him. For example, Perrone could publicly pressure his fellow Executive Committee members to take action. He could appoint a committee to investigate the women’s claims against Kasparian and release the committee’s report. He could publicly demand that Kasparian resign. He could search for a strong candidate to oppose Kasparian in the election, and he could campaign against Kasparian.

Perrone’s refusal to take any action raises questions. How is it that SEIU, once its sexual harassment scandal broke, was able to quickly get rid of several people accused of inappropriate behavior and the UFCW can’t do anything? (After all, the accusations against those SEIU officials were less serious than those against Kasparian.) What does Kasparian know that Perrone doesn’t want revealed? What has Kasparian done, what is he doing, or what has he promised to do to make Perrone so resistant to calling for Kasparian to resign? Could it be that the UFCW leadership is just a bad boys club?After well over a year of waiting, UFCW members deserve answers.

 

 

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to […]






Member Begs UFCW President to Take Action

In an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone, a UFCW member and grocery store worker is begging Perrone to suspend or fire Mickey Kasparian, the scandal-plagued president of a UFCW local in California. The UFCW member, Chris Lopez, very reasonably inquires about the amount of union dues money used to pay the settlements for the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits filed against Kasparian; Lopez feels that “even a single penny is too much.”

Lopez also warns Perrone against inaction and accuses Kasparian of destroying the San Diego labor movement.

Mr. Perrone, your nonaction will imply that possibly you too are guilty by association by condoning Mickey Kasparian’s violations of human dignity…

The ignorance and self-serving actions of Mickey Kasparian have destroyed the labor movement in San Diego, possibly pushing us back decades.

The AFL-CIO Labor Council is broken up, fighting each other because of Mickey Kasparian…

Lopez is also concerned about the ability of the union to negotiate a good contract due to Kasparian.

We are desperate because our contract is nearing expiration and public perception is so important during contract negotiations. How can the public support us knowing what Mickey Kasparian has done?

Our union is tainted by the union president with his indiscretions. How will labor be able to organize with this black eye…?

How can the company management or anybody take our union president Mickey Kasparian seriously during negotiations? We have lost countless things from our contract over the years under his management and now minimum wage is catching up with us and will surpass many of us union members.

Lopez lists more than two dozen men in other professions who have been fired or punished for their improper behavior and asks why the UFCW hasn’t done anything about Kasparian. Lopez notes that his union representative claimed that the settlements had been paid by insurance; Lopez questions who is paying for the insurance.

Will Perrone respond to this UFCW member’s pleas and finally take action against Kasparian? Or will Perrone continue to sit on his hands as he has done for over a year as four Hispanic women have made serious allegations against Kasparian?

In an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone, a UFCW member and grocery store worker is begging Perrone to suspend or fire Mickey Kasparian, the scandal-plagued president of a UFCW local in California. The UFCW member, Chris Lopez, very reasonably inquires about the amount of union dues money used to pay the settlements […]