December 16, 1997
Thank you for calling Local 225's
"Union Issues" Hotline.
The Local is encouraged, after Day
One of the trusteeship hearing. Monday's testimony focused primarily
on the Local's spending practices. As you'll recall in the Trusteeship
Complaint, the General Executive Board Attorney charged that too
much money has been spent on meals.
The Inspector General's accountant
testified, there should be a limit set on the number of meals
a Local can expense. Once that limit is set, that's it. If an
officer works a 12-hour day and conducts business during breakfast,
lunch and dinner, the I-G feels the Local should not be allowed
to expense three meals.
It appeared that the G-E-B Attorney
feels he should decide how much should be spent on meals, in connection
with keeping your union strong.
Hearing officer Peter Vaira commented
that he was not familiar with spending limits being put on any
union and asked the G-E-B Attorney's office to research the matter
and submit their findings for his review.
Questioned further, the I-G accountant
couldn't specify what he feels is a reasonable number of meals
to expense. But, the G-E-B Attorney did say he'd prefer each
officer to have an allowance, which would include his expenses
The accountant did not disagree that
a 200-dollar a week allowance would be reasonable. A 200-dollar
a week allowance would amount to 10-thousand-400 dollars spent
per officer each year-- or about 52-thousand dollars. That led
the Local's attorney to conclude that it wasn't the amount of
money Local 225 spent that the G-E-B Attorney's office objected
to, it was the way it was dispensed -- through credit cards.
The accountant agreed.
The I-G accountant also testified
that the Local lost money this past year. The Local's attorney
says the 2-25 accountant will prove that's not true.
Former Local 225 secretary Jenell
Totani was the G-E-B Attorney's second witness. Her testimony
disputed a recent Chicago Tribune report that portrayed her as
an unskilled, unqualified employee, hired only because of her
romantic relationship with business manager John Galioto.
Totani testified that she had previous
office experience in a very large corporation and is computer-literate.
No one, besides the Trib, has ever disputed that Totani performed
her secretarial duties extremely well. In fact, she testified,
she felt she was over-qualified for the Local 225 position.
In the Local attorney's opinion, Totani's
testimony added no muscle to the G-E-B Attorney's charge of financial
malpractice at Local 225. And the hearing officer observed animosity
between Galioto and Totani, noting that it could give her a motive
to be untruthful.
Her strongest accusation was that
the Local spent $75 to upgrade her airline ticket to a union convention
to first class.
According to 2-25's attorney, the
Local had not paid for Totani's coach class ticket, which was
a significantly larger amount.
She also was asked what she knew about
the incident involving former Executive Board member Mary Williams.
As you'll recall, Williams charges that she was offered a bribe
to step down from the E-Board. And, she says, she was given a
literacy test, as punishment for raising the matter during a Board
Totani testified that Galioto told
her he d been advised that Williams could not read well. She
says he felt Williams should be given a literacy test -- but that
he didn't want to administer it himself, because of their earlier
Totani said Galioto didn't think someone
illiterate should be on the Board. She testified, he felt it
wasn't fair to the rank and file members, who count on their Board
members to know and interpret the LIUNA Constitution and other
Tuesday, that issue -- which triggered
a charge of undemocratic practices -- was a focal
point, as Mary Williams took the witness stand.
We'll have that update tomorrow afternoon. Until then, have a great day!