One of my big beefs about #MeToo is that is the movement has been almost entirely about defending upper class/professionally accomplished women. No one has ridden in to demand the ouster of employees of the union Service Employees International, known as SEIU, who’ve been accused of sexual misconduct, nor has any prominent woman objected to the way SEIU has promoted some of the accused while targeting whistleblowers and intimidating reporters and media outlet who’ve covered the SEIU abuses. The #MeToo sisterhood apparently doesn’t extend to union members nor other lowly workers, like waitresses who report that workplace harassment is endemic.
The latest victim of these SEIU shakedowns is union gumshoe Mike Elk, who publishes the PayDay Report newsletter. A SEIU unit has not only threatened Elk with litigation, but is even trying to get him to expose his sources, when in most states, both statute and case law offer rock-solid protection of their confidentiality.
These SEIU threats against Elk and other members of the press are raw intimidation. Most reporters welcome defamation saber-rattling, knowing they are proof they’ve gotten under their target’s skin, since litigation would allow the journalist to do discovery and publish on anything they unearthed, which is the last thing organizations getting bad press want. But someone of limited means would lack the legal horsepower to get as far as using the power of the court to root in his opponent’s e-mails and file cabinets.
Sordid History of SEIU Harassment
SEIU has been forced to address some of executive-level misconduct, but has not only refused to respond to other charges but has gone into classic “vilify the accuser” mode.
President Mary Kay Henry’s deputy Scott Courtney departed in 2017 in the wake of a BuzzFeed expose of sexual abuse.
Henry appointed an external advisory board to address sexual harassment. Thinking it was bona fide, a former SEIU staffer sent a memo that had already gone to the Guardian (in a big mistake to Henry and a “ombudsman,” not the new board) about the misconduct of Martin Manteca, Organizing Director of SEIU Local 721, the Southern California Public Service Workers Union, with 95,000 members. In 2016, a staffer complained of having been demoted after complaining about Manteca; she was not the first to allege he’d been abusive. More than 60 staffers in Manteca’s local filed a petition decrying his retaliation.
That led to an investigation…by the SEIU ethics office. Readers who know this terrain will recognize that for a probe to have the veneer of independence, it need to be led by an outside party.
As Elk reported in early December:
In depositions, obtained by the Payday Report, 16 SEIU staffers provided testimony against Manteca. The staffers painted a picture of a boss who not only sexually harassed women in the workplace but one who would become physically confrontational and harass those who tried to stand up to him in solidarity with his accusers.
“He was an absolute sociopath,” said one staffer who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. “If he was on the floor of your office, you hid at your desk. You didn’t want to see him. He was such a terror.”
Elk posted most of the affidavits in a case filed by Mindy Surge against SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. They cover sexual misconduct, including assault, by SEIU officers and mangers such as Dave Regan, Stan Lykes, Marcus Hatcher (who was eventually fired), Chokri Bensaid, and Pedro Malave (fired after a PayDay report expose). We’ve embedded them at the end of the post. They make for vivid reading.
As Elk describes, SEIU took no action against Manteca in the 2016 investigation. Elk describes another allegation, in 2018, of Manteca earlier making advances against her, which again failed to generate any sanction. Things continued to snowball:
However, despite numerous accusations of sexual misconduct and two investigations by SEIU, Manteca was allowed to continue in his post as deputy trustee of SEIU Nevada in addition to his duties as Organizing Director of the SEIU’s chapter of the SEIU Local 721, the Southern California Public Service Workers Union.
While serving as deputy trustee of SEIU Nevada, Manteca was once again accused of harassment. In a lawsuit filed in March of 2019 and obtained by Payday Report, Manteca is accused of harassing a female staffer Debbie Miller for seeking a disability accommodation for her struggle with diabetes.
Today, Manteca still serves in his position as the Director of Organizing of the Southern California Public Services Workers’ Union, where he makes $130,000-a-year…
SEIU #MeToo activists say that staffers like Manteca and Regan, who participate in hostile takeovers known as “trusteeships” of other SEIU locals, rarely face punishment. They are known within the union as part of the “wrecking crew,” a crew of bureaucratic union staffers that are intensely loyal to DC union leadership, often at the expense of local administration.
Ironically, while SEIU has used federal trusteeship powers to take over dissident unions, it has failed to use trusteeship to punish those like Regan, who stands accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Indeed, SEIU has even permitted Regan to use his union, SEIU-UHW funds to defend the union leaderships against sexual misconduct allegations.
Notice that the only #MeToo supporters who are trying to combat these apparent serial abusers are SEIU members; there’s no evidence of interest, much the less help, from the rest of the movement.
Key sections from Elk’s January 29 newsletter, which I urge you to read in full:
Yesterday, SEIU Vice President Dave Regan, who also serves as President of its SEIU’s California-based affiliate SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), had SEIU-UHW General Counsel Bruce Harland send me a letter threatening to sue me for defamation for my expose on cover-ups of sexual misconduct within SEIU….
The union’s General Counsel Bruce Harland also asked me to preserve all communications as “relevant evidence” as part of its ongoing defamation lawsuit against SEIU whistleblower Njoki Woods. A lawsuit, which many consider retaliatory as Woods’ statements about sexual misconduct and threats of retaliation were backed up by others in affidavits.
In February of 2019, SEIU-UHW attempted to subpoena Google to get the company to reveal the name of the publisher of a blog published by an anonymous SEIU whistleblower entitled “Stern Burgers with Fries.” Ultimately, the lawsuit was dismissed after exhaustive legal preparations from the defendant.
In March of 2019, SEIU-UHW fired Njoki Woods after she spoke out to Payday Report against sexual misconduct in her union. Now, they are suing her for defamation for an interview she gave to Payday Report in what many see as a warning shot to others thinking about speaking out about what many allege is rampant sexual misconduct within the union.
SEIU has behaved badly on other fronts. It opposed single payer. It put $100,000 into a dark money group to oppose pro-transparency, former SEIU local president JJ Jelinic in his run for the retiree seat at CalPERS. One political expert believes that former SEIU president Andy Stern is a moving force behind the self-destructive loyalty of unions to private equity.
If you’d like to help, please donate to Elk’s legal defense fund, as I have. Publicize this shameless SEIU conduct on Facebook and Twitter, and if you have any friends who are union members or leaders, or in the left-leaning press, please e-mail them about it with a short cover note. Ditto for any #MeToo activists. SEIU is engaged in thuggery, both towards women who stand up to its internal predators, and anyone on the outside who comes to their aid. It’s time to turn the tables on them.00 SEIU Sexual Harassment Affidavits