Greedy corporations, beneficient unions

Or not
"California's largest union local and a related charity have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to firms owned by the wife and mother-in-law of the labor organization's president, documents and interviews show."

Wait, isn't it CEO's and Evil Oil Men and Chimpy Bu$hitler who are always steering money to their cronies?

The Los Angeles-based union, which represents low-wage caregivers, also spent nearly $300,000 last year on a Four Seasons Resorts golf tournament, a Beverly Hills cigar club, restaurants such as Morton's steakhouse and a consulting contract with the William Morris Agency, the Hollywood talent shop, records show.

I guess they're funneling money to those "low wage caregivers" by assuming they work at Morton's and cigar clubs.

The workers, whose dues fill the local's coffers, often are described as "the poor caring for the poor." In its Labor Department filings, the local, headed by Tyrone Freeman, has reported more liabilities than assets for each of the last three years.

Turning Robin Hood on his head; Steal from the poor and give to Tyrone Freeman!

Hold on, here comes the howler:

Freeman, who leads the United Long-Term Care Workers, said he and his union have done nothing wrong. "Every expenditure has been in the context of fighting poverty," he said.

I'd like to get in on some of that poverty fighting. Sounds way more luxurious than the work we do at St Margaret of Scotland.

How much did he steer to his family and friends?

The union and the charity have paid those firms at least $405,700 since January 2006, not counting any outlays this year.

Wow. That's not bad. All this time I thought the money was in the private sector. Silly me.

Howler #2:

Nelson Lichtenstein, director of UC Santa Barbara's Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy, said the local's spending recalls the excesses of organized labor's past.

She says this like this is an exception to the rule. Uh huh. Right. Sure.


"It's very important for unions not to do this kind of thing," he said. "Union leadership is a public trust -- all the more so when the people being represented are among the lowest-paid in America."

If you trust your union bosses your really not very bright.

Several expense are listed but my favorite is this one:

* The local's nearly $10,000 tab at the Grand Havana Room, a cigar lounge known for its celebrity clientele and invitation-only memberships, was for "lodging," according to the union's annual financial report. A Grand Havana spokeswoman said the club does not provide accommodations. Freeman declined to characterize the expenditure, and after The Times inquired about it, he said he had refunded it.

What that? Oh, that was lodging. They don't have lodging? was...uh...never mind. I paid it back anyway.

Well, I guess the perks make up for his meager salary, right? Well, no.

He and his spokesman would not answer questions about Freeman, who ranks among the country's better-paid local labor chiefs, receiving $213,000 in salary and other compensation in 2007.

In other words, he makes 11 times the average salary of his union members

Where is the "CEO pay is out of control" crowd now?

Surely the SEIU will act swiftly to punish such transgressions, right? Well, no.

In an e-mail, Stern spokesman Steve Trossman said: "As far as I can determine, the International Union has not received allegations concerning [Freeman's local]. If the International Union receives allegations about a local that warrant further action, we have internal union procedures for handling them."

Translation: Don't ask any friggin questions or we'll break your legs.

The hits keep on coming:

Freeman's wife, Pilar Planells, 28, was a union staff member until 2006, earning more than $50,000 as an executive assistant. She left the local to pursue an entertainment industry career, according to another former employee. That year, Freeman's local paid roughly $36,000 to Planells' firm, Lotus Seven Productions. In 2007, the local paid the company about $178,000, annual financial reports filed with the Labor Department show."

For that kind of scratch she can practically produce her own movie with herself as the star.

Howler #3:

"Freeman said Lotus Seven has produced 10 videos that promote the local's work and have been shown on lease-access cable channels. He said that the company won the contract through a competitive bidding process and that his wife did not personally profit from the payments to her company."

No, of course she doesn't profit. Don't be silly. I would love to have seen the "competitive bidding process" too.

"She only gets reimbursements," Freeman said. "She does not profit at all."

She spent an average of about $17,000 on each video. Either she has the most elaborate public access productions ever made or the worst cost over runs of same.

The rest continues apace. I just wish that people would view corporations, unions and government with equal skepticism.


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