DOL: Wilhelm-Imposed Trusteeship Invalid

The U.S. Dep’t of Labor recently found that a trusteeship imposed by John Wilhelm, president of Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union, on HERE Local 1 in Chicago failed to comply with federal labor law. After an investigation of alleged violations of Title III of the Labor-Mgmt. Reporting & Disclosure Act, popularly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, DOL’s Office of Labor-Mgmt. Standards concluded that HERE had failed to hold a hearing either before or after the imposition of the trusteeship. In a Nov. 29, 2000 letter to HERE, OLMS’s enforcement division chief, Lary Yud, called on HERE to hold a hearing to, “rectify the trusteeship’s lack of validity under Section 304(c) of the LMRDA.”

Wilhelm imposed the invalid trusteeship over Local 1 on Nov. 29, 1999. Wilhelm alleged that the trusteeship was “voluntary” and that the trusteeship was based on the local’s financial problems and its emerging challenges with organizing. Wilhelm’s view appears soft when contrasted with a report written in 1998 by HERE’s court-appointed monitor, Kurt Muellenberg, who concluded that the local had been burdened by fraud, financial mismanagement, nepotism, cronyism, and undemocratic practices and, “should have been placed in trusteeship many years ago.” Local 1 was the home of ex-boss Edward Hanley, the longtime HERE boss who was forced to resign in 1998 amid allegations of misuse of union funds and later died.

Martin Prieb, one of the Local 1 members who requested the federal probe, said he was suspicious about HERE’s intentions with respect to Local 1. “I think Wilhelm will use the hearing as a tool to justify the trusteeship,” Prieb said. “We remain steadfast in our conviction that his intentions are suspicious at best. The trusteeship has seriously undermined the democratic processes within this local. We hope Wilhelm will someday come clean with the members.” [BNA 12/20/00]