Washington, DC–Service Employees International Union (SEIU), yesterday, announced formal charges against Tyrone Freeman, president of United Long-term Care Workers Local 6434 based in Los Angeles, California. In a letter to the International leadership, Trustee John Ronches charged Freeman with engaging in self-dealing and financial malpractice in violation of SEIU’s Constitution and Local bylaws.
SEIU opened its investigation on August 11 and appointed Ronches as Trustee on August 22, with the International assuming trusteeship and oversight of all Local affairs. SEIU also retained former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, a nationally recognized legal expert, to assist in the International’s investigation of the Local.
At the Trustee’s request and per the International’s Constitution, International President Andy Stern will assume jurisdiction in the case and designate a hearing officer.
“The allegations underlying the charges against Tyrone Freeman are deeply disturbing, and we are going to proceed with a full and fair hearing process,” said Stern.
SEIU’s investigation produced seven separate charges against Freeman for improperly benefiting in transactions involving member funds. The charges allege that:Freeman caused Local 6434 to make more than $600,000 in payments to a company owned by his wife without proper disclosure to the Local Executive Board and/or observance of procedural safeguards. These transactions included payment for work that does not appear commensurate with the value of the Local union expenditures.
Freeman improperly charged Local 6434 for certain expenses of his August 2006 wedding to Pilar Planells.
Freeman used the Homecare Workers Training Center Fund to pay for childcare services that did not benefit the workers attending the training center but instead benefited himself, his wife, and his mother-in-law, along with Local staff. In carrying out this transaction, it is also alleged that he failed to make proper disclosures and implement procedural safeguards.
Freeman improperly entered into a consulting agreement with the nonprofit Long Term Care Housing Corporation that provided him with an “advance retainer.”
Freeman accepted payments from the California United Homecare Workers that were intended for Local 6434.
Freeman failed to adequately document or substantiate the proper use of union funds on a private cigar club membership.
Freeman disregarded democratic accountability procedures with respect to use of the Local union funds and the funds of nonprofit entities related to Local 6434.
The announcement of charges follows an intensive and ongoing internal investigation. Following published allegations against Freeman, SEIU immediately sent a team of auditors and investigators to Local 6434 during the week of August 11. Based on a this review of evidence, the International took the Local into trusteeship on August 22 and appointed John Ronches, a nationally respected 30-year veteran of the labor movement, to oversee the investigation and day-to-day operations.
“Our members, who do some of the toughest jobs in America, deserve leadership of unquestioned honesty and integrity, and SEIU will deliver nothing less,” Stern said.
SEIU also announced yesterday that the hearing in the trusteeship matter involving Local 6434 will be held on Oct. 2-3 before former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin. Grodin, who served on California’s high court between 1979 and 1987, is currently Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law.