NEWS: Federal Appeals Court Upholds $1.57 Million Judgment Against NUHW, Sal Rosselli and Other Union Officials

Scathing Decision Finds that Rosselli and Others Diverted Union Resources to Their Own Use, Stole Documents and Equipment, Lied to Workers and the Court, and Deliberately Harmed Union Members

For Immediate Release Contact:  Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Contact:   Steve Trossman   213-300-1882

SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District upheld a $1.57 million judgment today against the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), its President Sal Rosselli, and other former union officials in a scathing and at times contemptuous decision that finds the defendants improperly diverted union resources to their own use, stole documents and equipment, lied repeatedly to SEIU-UHW members and the court, and set out to undermine their own union and its members in order to form a rival organization. (http://www.seiu-uhw.org/opinion)

The decision upholds a verdict reached in April 2010 (http://www.seiu-uhw.org/juryverdict), when a federal jury ordered the judgment against NUHW, Rosselli, and 16 other union officials. Rosselli and the others were removed from office in SEIU-UHW in January 2009 for misusing members’ dues and undermining members’ democratic rights. At that time, the local was placed in trusteeship.

“After reading this decision, you can’t help but conclude that Rosselli and the other defendants cannot be trusted to represent union members,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. “They repeatedly violated their duty to work solely in the interests of the members they were supposed to represent, and in so doing failed to live up to the most basic principles that guide union leaders.

“It’s now clear that NUHW was built on a foundation of lies, stolen resources, and actions that harmed workers,” he added.

In sometimes colorful language, the appeals court found that Rosselli and the other defendants:

Attempted to undermine and weaken SEIU-UHW: “The defendants, faced with trusteeship, wrongfully engaged in a pattern of conduct designed to weaken the local union while simultaneously setting up a rival union to compete as the local union’s collective bargaining agent. The defendants’ portrayal of these obstructionist activities—which included actively blocking the trustees’ access to UHW facilities and instructing employees to “[t]ake everything out of the office”—as “symbolic slumber parties” goes beyond the pale.” (Opinion, page 19)

 Diverted union resources to their own use: “Their argument ignores the fact that they diverted union resources to weaken their own union and form a rival union.” (Opinion, page 11)

 Tried to make SEIU-UHW ungovernable: “The evidence at trial showed that UHW officials sought to create an ungovernable situation for trustees appointed to administer UHW by: (1) blocking access to UHW buildings to prevent the SEIU-appointed trustees from entering; (2) removing UHW property from UHW buildings, including office equipment, computers, and employee grievance files; (3) instructing lower-level UHW officials and rank-and-file members not to recognize the authority of the trustees; (4) harassing SEIU staff by storming SEIU’s Alameda, California, office; and (5) terminating UHW collective bargaining agreements with California employers.” (Opinion, pages 7- 8)

 Stole documents and equipment: “The defendants deserve some recognition for their gall. Having once told the district court that they possessed no UHW property before later returning substantial amounts of that property (but not all that remains missing), they now invite us to trust that they do not possess any property still at large. We decline the invitation.” (Opinion page 24)

 Lied to the Court: “Having previously cried wolf in the federal courts before, only to have their cry exposed, the defendants merit no trust when they cry again.” (Opinion, page 25)

“The District Court found, and the trial record shows, that some equipment remains missing. The court justly considered the defendants’ obvious lack of credibility and wisely concluded that ‘there is reason to expect yet more missing files will turn up.’ ” (Opinion, pages 24-25)

SEIU-UHW has already collected judgments from some of the defendants, and will now step up efforts to collect from NUHW and the other defendants.

 

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