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News ::
SEIU is Getting even with a Senator (english)
10 Oct 2003
Modified: 18 Oct 2003
The state should investigate Tony Corcoran's claim that his union employer SEIU punished him for pension reforms 10/10/03


State Sen. Tony Corcoran played a key role in the most important accomplishment in the 2003 Legislature: reform of the Public Employees Retirement System.

For this public service, the Cottage Grove Democrat claims, his union employer removed him from his job and stripped him of his 15 years of seniority. However, leaders of the Service Employees International Union Local 503 deny there was any retaliation against Corcoran for his work in the Legislature.

The state Bureau of Labor and Industries must get to the truth of the matter. No member of Oregon's citizen Legislature should ever face retaliation for doing the public's business in Salem. The law is clear: ". . . an employer shall not discharge or threaten to discharge, intimidate or coerce any employee by reason of the employee's service or scheduled service as a member . . . of the Legislative Assembly."

It's always difficult to get lawmakers to look out for the public interest, rather than narrow special interests that help them get elected. It won't get any easier with the lawmaker who most demonstrated political courage in the last Legislature claiming that it cost him his job.

Corcoran, 54, served as chairman of the Senate committee that handled PERS reform. He did more than any other member of the Senate to bring the runaway costs of the public pension system under control.

It was the toughest sort of political duty. Corcoran has spent his career as a union organizer and leader. But the blunt-spoken Democrat recognized what his old friends and supporters in the unions did not: Sweeping reforms of PERS were necessary not only to save taxpayers billions of dollars but also to save the pension system itself.

Corcoran, who was emptying his desk Thursday on his last day of work at SEIU, said union leaders came to his office on July 22 and told him they were canceling his contract because of "pushback" they had received from union members angry about his work on PERS.

Corcoran is preparing to file a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries. This case deserves a thorough investigation and a public airing of the results. Every Oregon lawmaker should be protected from the kind of retaliation that Corcoran is alleging.

Corcoran, meanwhile, is leaving the Legislature after two terms in the House and five years in the Senate. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has appointed him to a new full-time job on the state Employment Appeals Board, which will require him to resign from the Legislature.

The departure of the feisty, unapologetically liberal and public-spirited Corcoran from the Legislature is a real loss. The greater damage, though, is the warning his story sends to future citizen legislators: Your boss is watching.

SEIU is one of the Most Corrupt Unions in America Today!
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National Legal and Policy Center -- Organized Labor Accountability Project

UNION CORRUPTION UPDATE

Information on America's most corrupt & aggressive unions

SERVICE EMPLOYEES (SEIU)
New York Local Linked to Mob Probe
Three federal indictments and one complaint filed Apr. 26 in U.S. Dist. Court in Brooklyn charged 45 reputed members of five N.Y. crime families with racketeering, murder, and other crimes. Among the charges, Salvatore "Sammy Meatballs" Aparo, Vincent Aparo, Jerry Brancato, Peter "Petey Red" DiChiara, Pasquale Falcetti, John "Johnny Green" Faraci, Ismat Kukic, Alana "Baldie" Longo, Glenn McCarthy, Michael Norrito, Louis "Big Lou" Vallario, and Abe Weider were charged with a scheme to bribe Service Employees Int'l Union Local 32B-32J bosses. The local was formerly run by AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney.

Allegedly, in exchange for bribes to be paid by Weider, a building owner, the local would replace union workers with nonunion workers. The Genovese family's "Aparo/DiChiara crew" allegedly solicited help from the Gambino and Bonanno families to identify and contact SEIU bosses who might be willing to accept bribes.

Also, Falcetti and George Barone were charged with conspiring to extort port companies. Barone allegedly oversaw the scheme for the Genovese family. Allegedly, at least one firm was forced to pay about $100,000 to ensure labor peace. [USAO E.D.N.Y., Media Release 4/26/01]


Union Corruption Update is made possible by the generous contributions from readers like you. NLPC, P.O. Box 6273, McLean, VA 22106-6273. Thank you.

In addition to the unions and organizations covered in this Union Corruption Update, readers can look forward to news and information on other corrupt and abusive unions in future editions.

All back issues of the Union Corruption Update can be viewed at NLPC's website (www.nlpc.org). Also available is a union-by-union and state-by-state index of all Union Corruption Update articles.

If you have story ideas or suggestions for future editions of Union Corruption Update, please email NLPC at nlpc (at) nlpc.org. Thank you.

Union Corruption Update is part of NLPC's Organized Labor Accountability Project which is investigating and exposing corruption and extremism in the SEIU, AFL-CIO and many other union organizations. NLPC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit foundation promoting ethics and accountability in government through research, education and legal action.
See also:
nlpc.org
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SEIU Getting Even With a Senator? (english)
18 Oct 2003
To appreciate the agenda and the credibility of the "non-partisan" (but anti-union, anti-Democrat, anti-progressive) organization that posted this article, visit their website.

The "reform" of the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System to which the article refers might better be termed a "gutting". This has resulted in those unions representing Oregon public employees joining together and filing law suits in both state and federal court to overturn the so-called reforms, which
have resulted in significantly reduced retirement benefits for both retired and active public employees. In leading the attack on PERS, Tony Corcoran turned his back on the people and organizations that had supported his political career -- and because he was widely known to have been supported by unions, made it very hard for those same unions to effectively lobby to prevent the gutting or PERS.

I am a union organizer at Tony Corcoran's (now former) union local -- in fact, I spent about two years helping the same very low-paid homecare workers he now does not want to work with win the largest union election in Oregon's history. I am also an activist in the staff union. My sympathy for Tony in all this is very limited, and, to the best of my knowledge, so is that of his other co-workers. It is my impression that Tony, while a member of the staff union, first struck a private deal to get his contract (when union members striking private deals outside the contract is commonly understood to both weaken the contract and to undermine solidarity) and then wanted the local to violate the terms of our contract when he returned.

In any case, the local's executive director, Leslie Frane, had a response printed in the Oregonian (Oregon's state-wide newspaper) that does a good job of presenting the facts. It follows.

====
Sen. Tony Corcoran was a victim of his own choices
10/15/03 by Leslie Frane

With his usual flair for the dramatic, Sen. Tony Corcoran, D-Cottage Grove, resigned from the staff of our union last week with a flurry of accusations about unfair employment practices. In response, The Oregonian has called for an official investigation into whether the Service Employees International Union Local 503 retaliated against Corcoran for his votes on legislation relating to PERS ("Getting even with a Senator?" Oct. 10).

Oregon state law properly bars employers from discriminating against state legislators based on their legislative service. However, the law does not
require that legislators receive preferential treatment based on that service. When SEIU treated Corcoran the same as its other employees, he chose to resign and accept employment elsewhere. That was his decision, and we respect his choice. What we don't respect is his attempt to portray himself as a victim.

Before Oregon spends thousands of tax dollars on an investigation, we want to provide a preview of what investigators will find: Corcoran left his position at SEIU to accept a new job that will give him a raise of about $30,000 a year -- significantly more than the executive director of SEIU Local 503 earns.

Back in 2001, Corcoran signed an agreement he now apparently regrets. Based on that agreement, he left his position on staff with SEIU and became an independent consultant, on contract with the union. Never envisioned as a permanent arrangement, his consulting contract was for "the period between Nov. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2002, or upon sine die [the end] of the 2003 Oregon Legislature." The contract ended by its own express terms -- terms that Corcoran chose to accept and the union has honored.

Corcoran chose to resign when SEIU held him to the same standards as other staff. His consulting contract said that when it terminated, Corcoran could return to a staff position equivalent to his former position. SEIU
honored that provision in full. Corcoran's new assignment was equivalent in size, geography and responsibilities to both his former assignment and
to the assignments of other organizers. He reported to the same supervisor who directs the six other organizers on the home care team. He was paid at
the top step of our wage scale. What Corcoran wanted was the right to hand-pick his assignment and his supervisor -- a privilege no other SEIU organizer enjoys.

Corcoran was seeking special treatment, not equal treatment. He freely chose to give up his seniority back in 2001 when he became a consultant; since consultants are not on staff, they don't have seniority. Restoring Corcoran's seniority when he returned to his staff position would have been a clear violation of our collective bargaining agreement with the union that represents non-supervisory employees of SEIU Local 503. Corcoran would have unfairly leapfrogged ahead of other staff in the seniority system.

Was Corcoran "forced out" of SEIU? Hardly. If the state wants to investigate, that's fine with us. But in these tight economic times, what a waste of taxpayers' money that would be.

Leslie Frane is executive director of SEIU Local 503 of the Oregon Public Employees Union.