MANHATTAN (CN) – Leaders of the union that represents college assistants and clerical employees of the City University of New York covered up years of mismanagement and wasted union money, according to a federal complaint.
The six named plaintiffs are officers of the 5,000-member Local 2054, which is affiliated with regional District Council 37 and the parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Joan Reed, the former president of Local 2054, did not face a contested election in her 25-year tenure, and she capped off her work in 2007 with a $41,700 Cadillac she bought herself with union money as a retirement present, according to the complaint. She also is accused of giving $5,000 gifts to the outgoing treasurer and secretary, without approval from the Executive Board.
The plaintiffs say they caught onto Reed’s wasteful and illegal spending when an auditor from Irving, Roth and Rubin recommended that they retroactively approve the purchase of the car, even though doing so would be illegal.
In the 2-year term of the local’s next president, Coleen Carrew-Rogers, the union lost more than $1 million in assets, which had been invested instead of protected in a safe, interest-earning account, according to the complaint.
Carrew-Rogers also threw a $15,000 spring bash that the local’s board of directors voted not to hold, and bought tickets for herself and 12 family members to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall, the plaintiffs claim.
They say a second auditor they hired found that the local had a $281,100 operating deficit in 2007 and had undercollected dues.
John Sefarian, chairman of the parent union’s judicial panel, found Carrew-Rogers guilty only of sending an employee on a $1,600 leadership conference and of publishing a newsletter without board approval, according to the complaint. After he cleared Carrew-Rogers of the other charges and reprimanded her, the plaintiffs say, they suspended her.
The plaintiffs seek damages for breach of fiduciary duty and bad faith, and an injunction to keep union leaders from suspending the executive board. They are represented by Arthur Schwartz with Schwartz, Lichten & Bright