Union member suing to restore local control of SEIU Nevada chapter

Service Employees International Union is being sued by a union member who hopes to reverse a recent takeover of local operations.

“It’s our position that was done fraudulently,” said attorney Michael Mcavoyamaya, who represents plaintiff Raymond Garcia, a member of SEIU Local 1107.

Mcavoyamaya appeared before District Court Judge Doug Smith on Tuesday seeking a court order to return control of SEIU 1107 back to the local executive board. Displaced board member Cherie Mancini, union employee Peter Nguyen, and nine people who identified as union members, were there in support.

“This is an emergency situation,” Mcavoyamaya told the judge. “The trustee has taken out credit cards on the local union’s account.”

Smith declined to take immediate action because the case has been moved to federal court. He said a ruling would be made by Friday.

“I suspect I can’t do anything until the federal court rules because you can’t have two jurisdictions ruling on the same issue,” Smith said.

Last month, international president Mary Kay Henry removed Mancini and suspended her union membership. Mancini was accused of misconduct for unilaterally canceling a contract ratification with University Medical Center last July and publicly accused the union’s bargaining team members of violating their fiduciary duty without evidence.

SEIU Nevada’s former executive vice president, Sharon Kisling, was also removed from office.

That day, a majority of the remaining members of the Local 1107 executive board voted to request the international union impose an emergency trusteeship. Two days later the international took control of Local 1107’s finances, contract negotiations and day-to-day operations.

“There was a manufactured emergency by the removal of myself and the vice president at the same time,” Mancini said. “I think that the membership needs to determine whether there needs to be a trusteeship or not.”

Mcavoyamaya said the change in control is invalid because the executive board members were led to believe they had no choice but vote for trusteeship.

Mancini speaks

Mancini is appealing Henry’s action. On Tuesday, in her first interview since her removal, Mancini called the discipline “very severe” and said the local union is “truly suffering” without her.

“I’ll admit that I was a little heavy handed on some things, but my intention was never anything malicious against membership. It was for the protection of membership,” Mancini said. “When I have members who are calling me and asking me to help them, I’m going to help them.”

Mcavoyamaya said the international union also fired the local’s chief financial officer Robert Clarke, communications director Dana Gentry and Nguyen, the director of organizing and representation.

Nguyen, who was also SEIU 1107’s chief negotiator, said he was leading contract negotiations for seven bargaining units representing thousands of workers.

“I’m certain that there’s irreparable harm that’s taken place to the members because the bargaining process has clearly been disrupted,” he said.

SEIU Local 1107 represents about 18,000 workers in Nevada. About half are government employees and half are private sector health care workers.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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