Silicon Valley Union Accused of Embezzlement & Illegal Politicking

When she headed the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council (SBLC), Amy Dean was referred to as the “unofficial mayor” of San Jose, Calif.  She is now in Chicago, but she and her successor, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, are accused of fraud and embezzlement by a frmr. employee.  And they have repeatedly failed to disclose the tax forms of a non-profit organization that works closely with the labor council.


When Dean first took over as the South Bay council’s political director, she formed a non-profit group called Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA).  At first, SBLC provided free rent and labor to WPUSA.  As the grants came rolling in, that relationship shifted as WPUSA began paying SBLC for rent and administration — $439,000 between 2001 and 2003.  Dean and Ellis-Lamkins have refused to provide any records to confirm their claim that the two organizations operate at arm’s length.


While WPUSA is legally barred from engaging in electoral politics, the local chair of the Democrat party works for WPUSA as its “Director of Union Community Resources.”


More recently, Teddie Lavallee filed suit against the SBLC for wrongful termination.  According to Lavallee, Ellis-Lamkins used a union credit card to buy a computer for her mother.  Ellis-Lamkins claims that she used the union’s non-profit discount rate — not the credit card — to purchase the computer, but has refused to make public any records relating to Levallee’s allegations, citing the advice of her lawyer. [Silicon Valley Metro Weekly, 3/24-31/04]