Embattled UFCW Boss Faces Setbacks

Mickey Kasparian, a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local president in Southern California, has been embroiled in scandal for the past year and a half as a result of four Latina women accusing him of mistreating them. For those not familiar with the story, Sandy Naranjo alleged in late 2016 that Kasparian had engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation against her and had wrongfully terminated her. Shortly thereafter, Isabel Vasquez accused him of demanding she have a sexual relationship with him. A few months later, Anabel Arauz sued Kasparian for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Finally, Melody Godinez filed a lawsuit last December claiming he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Who are these women? Three of the four worked for Kasparian’s union; the fourth is a local union activist.

When we last checked in on Kasparian, he had just settled the lawsuits that these women had filed against him. The bad news is that the UFCW International Union still hasn’t made any effort to get rid of Kasparian. In fact, he was reelected at the UFCW International convention to another term as vice president. But there is a considerable amount of good news to report as well.

First of all, Kasparian’s political power appears to be waning. Several of the candidates his labor council endorsed lost their primary elections, and a ballot measure Kasparian supported failed. Amidst opposition to his role on the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee, Kasparian resigned in late 2017. His resignation from the party committee was followed by several local politicians calling for him to step down from his position as union president. This spring, SEIU left Kasparian’s breakaway labor council, the San Diego Working Families Council. (Kasparian formed that council just last year after the AFL-CIO took over the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and removed him from its leadership.)

Second, Kasparian’s opposition shows no sign of going away. Kasparian’s opponents are still protesting him, and they are constantly attacking him on social media. They are also collecting signatures for a petition calling for an election. Among other problems cited in the petition is the use of union funds to pay for Kasparian’s legal fees and settlement costs.

Thirdly, Kasparian’s union is due for elections by the end of this year. So he will either have to stand for reelection, step down, or figure out a clever way of avoiding an election. Until very recently, Kasparian had been working on merging his local with another UFCW local, which would have allowed him to remain in office for another three years without an election. Unfortunately for him, the attempt failed. The president of the other local resigned suddenly, and the vote on the proposed merger was called off.

Fourthly, Kasparian’s union is in turmoil. The vice president of the union opposed the merger; Kasparian responded by firing him. The same day the vice president was fired, the comptroller, who had worked for the union for more than 15 years, resigned. Furthermore, a union member, who also opposed the merger, just filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against a union representative. The union representative is accused of threatening the member and trying to get the member in trouble with their company — all for opposing the merger.

As Kasparian’s fortunes fade, his scheming and spitefulness continue. For example, Kasparian planned to rig the vote on the merger by holding it on one night — during rush hour traffic — at the union office, which has very limited parking for a union with over 12,000 members. In addition, after the vice president of the union’s retiree club questioned the way the merger was being handled, Kasparian reportedly canceled the monthly luncheon for retirees.

The clock is ticking down on Kasparian’s term. With any luck, he will be gone by the end of the year bringing a close to a very disgraceful chapter in UFCW history.

 

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