New York City Dissident Leader Fights Back

The reform-minded president of one of Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Dist. Council 37’s locals was locked out of his Manhattan office Nov. 3 after his executive board voted to suspend him. The move to oust Roy Commer came at the hands of board members loyal to DC 37 boss Stanley Hill. “It’s outrageous. I think it’s a first swing back by the leadership of DC 37 against the dissidents in an effort to try to muzzle them,” said Commer’s attorney. DC 37 is being rocked by outside audits and a grand jury investigation into alleged election fraud, embezzlement and financial mismanagement (See UCU 1.11). But a lawyer for the DC 37 executive board insisted Commer was removed Nov. 2 for violating the union’s constitution and that it had nothing to do with union’s on going audit.

Commer fought back by asking the city Controller Alan Hevesi to investigate alleged mismanagement in the million-dollar fund that pays for his members’ legal benefits. He said he wants to know why Local 375’s legal services fund spent increasing amounts of money through the years to hire more lawyers to process fewer cases. “We had 400 cases back in 1981 with a couple of attorneys, and now we have a caseload of about 300 a year and four attorneys,” Commer said. “There’s a half-million-dollar budget, up from about $100,000, and there’s no quarterly reports. We’re saying the money is being used on salaries for people who run [the unions legal fund] and are not doing a full day’s work.” [Daily News 11/4-5/98]