Health Care Union President in Michigan Charged with Embezzlement

Whatever travel plans that Hasan Zahdeh had are now on hold. On or around December 24, Zahdeh, president of the Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers (MUHW), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan with embezzling at least $15,000 in funds from the Muskegon-based union for his personal use. He had recently been arrested in St. Louis (Gratiot County), Mich. “A review of MUHW bank records reveals hundreds of unauthorized and fraudulent transactions, including trips made by Zahdeh to Istanbul, Turkey,” said U.S. Labor Department investigations attorney Sarah Pons. Zahdeh has claimed his innocence.

The Michigan Union of Healthcare Workers is an affiliate of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the latter of which began in 2009 as a breakaway faction of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The MUHW would follow its own call to independence by leaving the corruption-ridden SEIU Michigan Healthcare. One of the MUHW activists was Hasan Zahdeh, a cardiovascular technician at the Mercy Health Partners Hackley Campus in Muskegon, which now goes by the name Trinity Health. Back then, Zahdeh, a self-styled reformer, denounced the lavish salaries and perks of deposed SEIU Michigan Healthcare President Rickman Jackson and Jackson’s replacement, Marge Faville (Robinson). The union eventually was put under trusteeship in February 2017 by SEIU headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Ironically, Hasan Zahdeh now has corruption issues of his own. Starting in 2017, say federal prosecutors, he embezzled at least $15,000 of MUHW funds for his own use, especially home furnishings and air travel. According to the DOL’s Pons, he had taken not less than seven international flights with union money since November 2019 for unauthorized purposes. The Labor Department reviewed the union’s financial records after the union’s treasurer (“in name only”) resigned and provided them access. Ms. Pons added that Zahdeh had sold his home in Muskegon and was planning to move to Istanbul where he has a girlfriend. She wrote: “In summary, Defendant stated as though he felt all of his friends from work had betrayed him and did not believe him when he said he had not done anything wrong.” He may have a difficult time making that claim stick in court.