Wilhelm Conflict of Interest Alleged by Nevada Members

Helen Schany, member of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union’s Culinary Local 226 in Las Vegas, says the local’s bosses are avoiding her and other members who have questions about a controversial change in the local’s insurance plan.

Effective in 2000, part-time workers will have to work 800 hours a year to qualify for insurance coverage. Previously, workers only needed one hour a year to qualify. “For over a half a century, this has been very satisfactory,” said Schany, a 22-year member. “So if it wasn’t broken, why change it?” Schany wants to know how banquet workers, who aren’t guaranteed 800 hours a year and aren’t allowed to solicit jobs, are going to get the required hours. “I’ve never gotten 800 hours (a year) in 22 years,” she said. Local 226 estimates that 8,000 Culinary members will not meet the required 800 hours.

More importantly, Schany questioned an apparent “conflict of interest” involving HERE president and ex-Local 226 boss John W. Wilhelm and Local 226 staff director D. Taylor. Both are trustees of the union insurance fund and their wives are employed at the insurance office.

Schany first presented the questions to Local 226 secretary-treasurer Jim Arnold, who’s also on the insurance board, and Local 226 president Hattie Canty at an Oct. 7 meeting. Arnold promised to have answers at the Nov. 4 meeting, but failed to attend. “For him not to show up at the [Nov.] meeting … he knew what we were in there for,” Schany said. “He had no answers and the way he got around it was not to be there.”

Wilhelm alleged the change was to prevent abuse. “This is a very complicated subject, as are a lot of insurance subjects,” claimed Wilhelm. He didn’t comment on his apparent conflict of interest. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 11/15/99]