Service Employees Int’l Union Local 585 in Pittsburgh was placed in trusteeship Mar. 5 because of allegations that democratic procedures were ignored by its newly elected president, James Neville. The trusteeship was imposed after a hearing in late Feb. by int’l vice-president Thomas Balanoff. Deborah Schneider, regional director of SEIU District 925 in Cincinnati, was appointed trustee. Thomas Hoffman, a longtime SEIU staffer in Pittsburgh, was named deputy trustee.
The action takes control of the union away from Neville, an ex-Allegheny County assessor and former Air Force officer, who last December defeated Rosemary Trump, the 27-year president, by a vote of 1,505 to 1,403. Roughly 20% of the local’s membership voted. Trump, an outspoken leftist, was recently the subject defamation suit brought by an employer, Beverly Enterprises.
“A breakdown in democratic procedures in the local since new officials took office in December led to the trusteeship,” said SEIU spokesman Dan O’Sullivan. He said a hearing over the trusteeship will be held within 30 days.” Reportedly, SEIU acted on complaints filed by Local 585 members who alleged Neville violated provisions of the union’s constitution shortly after he was elected. Allegedly, Neville canceled union meetings, hired staff without proper authorization, engaged in nepotism, bypassed a negotiating committee in talks with the county and improperly ordered that collective bargaining agreements not be put out for ratification.
One flier distributed by an anonymous “monitoring committee” questioned Neville’s hiring, pay and administrative practices, saying he bloated the payroll and alienated executive board members. It said he entered his second board meeting to the intonation “All rise!” normally reserved for judges, and paid gun-toting constables to accompany union tellers who counted the election ballots. Additionally, Trump alleged in a complaint that Neville received outside financial assistance for campaigning in violation of the union’s constitution. O’Sullivan said those allegations played no role in the trusteeship. [Pitt. Post-Gaz. 3/6/01]