DC37 Appointments Questioned

Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees’ scandal-scarred Dist. Council 37 overseer Lee Saunders has “raised eyebrows” with his recent appointments to his DC37’s executive board. In choosing a dozen new members, Saunders bypassed two vocal critics of ex-DC37 executive director Stanley Hill: Mark Rosenthal, head of a drivers local, and Ray Markey, head of the library workers union. Rosenthal won election to Local 983 after blowing the whistle on corruption there. Along with Markey, Rosenthal has called for unionwide reforms, including direct election of top bosses.

Saunders made another curious move by appointing Peter Stein, controversial boss of the tiny lifeguard supervisors Local 508, as a new board member, a post that carries an $18,000 yearly stipend. In addition to his union position, Stein holds a city job as $60,000-a-year chief of city lifeguards. In the past, he came under fire from members who accused him of misusing his unusual dual powers.

Currently, Stein is officially excused from performing his city job in order to handle union business, even though its 90 full-time members make his local one of the council’s smallest. The so-called “release time” is a highly valued union perk. Hill approved the designation for Stein in 1995, a year after a report by community activist Mark Green blasted Stein for allegedly mismanaging the lifeguard program. In addition to his city and union posts, Stein is a teacher in Brooklyn.

The appointment also was surprising because of questions raised by an outside union auditor who conducted a local-by-local examination of DC37’s 1995 citywide contract vote. Hill was ousted in 1998 after top aides admitted massive fraud in the contract vote.  Auditors called the 101-to-0 tally in favor of the contract by Stein’s local “unusual.” They also questioned another lifeguards union, Local 461, which Stein supervised and voted 339-3 in favor. [Daily News 2/21/00]