DOL Sues Southern California Local over Tainted Elections

The Dep’t of Labor filed suit June 14 against the S. Cal. Prof’l Eng’g Ass’n (SCPEA) in the U.S. Dist. Court for the Cent. Dist. of Cal. DOL’s investigation of SCPEA’s Dec. 20, 2000 officers election found that the union improperly disqualified the winning vice-presidential candidate and improperly permitted an unqualified (and winning) candidate to run for executive board member-at-large. The union represents workers in Huntington Beach and Long Beach, Cal. DOL’s suit seeks installation of the improperly disqualified vice presidential candidate to his office and new nominations and a new election for the executive board member-at-large position under DOL supervision. [DOL 6/14/01]

Rich Devens and Steve Weixel were among a field of newly elected SCPEA officers, but Devens and Weixel were later declared ineligible because their candidacies violated SCPEA’s constitution. Devens was disqualified as vice president because he sat on the nominating committee prior to his election. Weixel was declared ineligible to become an at-large officer because he had not been a union member for two years and thus was not considered to be in good standing.

Another candidate, Terry Dunder, was second in votes behind Weixel in a race that would seat two of four candidates. He was temporarily stripped of his seat pending a new election because the union’s ruling council determined he might not have won in a three-man race.

The contested elections are just the latest battleground in a highly political skirmish between two SCPEA factions. Devens, Weixel and Dunder, who filed the original complaint with DOL earlier this year, have questioned the motives of the incumbent leaders who disqualified them. But ex-SCPEA president Doug Potter, who now sits on the council, said the union followed the rules set forth in its constitution. He said the council has yet to decide whether to settle or fight Devens’ appointment in court. SCPEA President Steve Dunham affirmed his support for Devens, Weixel, and Dunder. “I’ve maintained all along these guys should have been put in,” he said. [Press-Telegram (Long Beach, Cal.) 6/21/01]