A Culture of Corruption at SEIU

NewsAugust 1, 2012

Tyrone Freeman indicted on 15 felony counts, faces up to 200 years in jail; SEIU-UHW’s Leon Chow leaves Supervisor race in disgrace

Yesterday, former SEIU leader Tyrone Freeman was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on 15 counts, including embezzlement, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns.

The indictments, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, state that Freeman misused hundreds of thousands of SEIU members’ dues dollars while he was President of SEIU Local 6434. The charges, which could result in a jail sentence of up to 200 years, include reports of Freeman misusing members’ dues through spending on lavish golf tournaments, Beverly Hills cigar bars, spa treatments and payments made to family members’ businesses and to cover the costs of Freeman’s Hawai’i wedding.

As reported in the Times, after being appointed by Andy Stern—“who nurtured Freeman’s rise in the union”—Freeman pursued a “lifestyle of $175 glasses of cognac, $250 bottles of wine and a $3,400 trip to the NFL Pro Bowlfueled by dues from SEIU members.

With today’s indictment, the world is hearing about what we already knew: SEIU is a union gripped by a culture of corruption, in bed with big corporations and rotten to the core.

It’s no surprise that current SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan was a close ally of Freeman. Prior to trusteeship, Regan worked closely with Freeman to attack UHW members and undermine their elected leadership.

Freeman also joins a long list of SEIU officials who have participated in a culture of corruption at the union, including Annelle Grajeda, Alejandro Stephens, Wade Rathke, Bruce Raynor and Rickman Jackson. And the corruption continues at SEIU-UHW.

Just this week SEIU-UHW Director of External Affairs and Executive Board member Leon Chow, who was set to run for San Francisco Supervisor with the full backing of SEIU and SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan, shuttered his campaign in disgrace after San Francisco newspapers reported on Chow’s illegal voter registration that listed him as living at a storefront office in San Francisco while his actual residence was a Walnut Creek condominium.

Chow’s departure deals a harsh setback for SEIU-UHW’s attempt to create a business-friendly Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. SEIU-UHW had made a deal with Sutter Health to support the healthcare employer’s development plans in San Francisco.

It’s no coincidence that SEIU officials have, time and again, fallen afoul of the law. When union leaders put backroom deals with employers over their legal responsibility to serve members, corruption and indictments follow.

With Tyrone Freeman’s indictments and Leon Chow’s disgraceful exit from politics in San Francisco, the choice is clear. It is time for healthcare workers everywhere to reject the culture of corruption at SEIU and vote to join NUHW.


Sal Rosselli, President
National Union of Healthcare Workers