Longtime Fil-Am unionist accuses leaders of corporate-style abuses
SAN FRANCISCO — Union leaders and members belonging to ad-hoc committee picketed the offices of a San Francisco union local to denounce the recent firings of union staffers, including a Filipino organizer.
The group accused current SEIU Local 1021 leaders of cronyism, favoritism and hypocrisy for using “abusive” corporate policies in retaliating against staff members who criticized alleged discriminatory practices.
Filipino American Daz Lamparas, complained that SEIU Local 1021 where he was a former shop steward fired him in January 2017 just as he was grieving for his mother, who died in the Philippines. He also vehemently denied charges of insubordination that led to his termination.
“Upon hearing of my mother’s death, I informed my director that I would take a bereavement leave for one week and two or three weeks for vacation. They told me to come to the union office and to my surprise, instead of showing compassion, I was terminated by management three days after my mother died which was doubly painful,” Lamparas lamented.
Lamparas admitted to a shaky relationship between Local 1021 management and him before the termination. He was with SEIU for a total of 29 years and with Local 1021 for ten.
“I first filed unfair labor practice charges against the union before at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after I was bypassed for a promotion. I applied and am qualified. They instead hired someone on probationary status,” Lamparas recounted.
“After filing a union grievance, I was arbitrarily transferred to Livermore, which is 60 to 70 miles away from my residence. I have been working here in my local since 1975. They transferred me there to harass and punish me for what I did despite having a good record while working with them all these years.”
Lamparas further stated that he filed three unfair labor practice charges, four grievance charges, two discrimination/retaliation complaints at the U.S. EOCC and another lawsuit pending all against the SEIU Local 1021 management. He surmised that these cases probably triggered his termination.
Three other union staff members of color in their 50s and 60s were reported to have been similarly terminated in the last five months.
“What we are trying to show in this rally is that the management is unjust and hypocritical because they themselves do not practice the values and principles that they are supposed to uphold in protecting workers,” Lamparas maintained.
“Going out to rally is the same tactic the unions employ to bring it to the attention of the public abuses of their employers. We are now just practicing what we are used to doing.”
The group’s manifesto further claimed that “many of our unions today are not democratically run by their rank and file membership, but by their union bureaucrats who have little in common with the workers they are paid to represent. While these union bureaucrats pay themselves exorbitant salaries to represent workers abused by their employers, they themselves abuse their own staff and workers by using the very same unfair labor practices.”
Picketers chanted “No justice, no peace!” and “The people united will never be defeated” and carried placards bearing messages like EXPOSE the SEIU Local 1021 Union Bureaucrats, STOP Union Hypocrisy, END Retaliation and Discrimination, STOP Cronyism and favoritism in SEIU Local.
Some members of SEIU Local 1021 and sympathizers from other unions joined in picketing the union office.
Filipino American community leader, former activist and president of the International Hotel Tenants Association in the 1970s, and an SEIU Local 1021 retiree Emil de Guzman served as emcee.
Supporter Tony Robles of the Manila Town Heritage Foundation and Office Workers Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) in San Francisco see a dysfunction in certain places whenever there are cases of union staff members being terminated.
“I have worked with Daz when he was our labor representative. He was highly skilled and competent in his job. He worked with us in identifying what our needs were and what it was we can get in terms of concession in our negotiations with management,” Robles said.
Robles also warned: “The real danger comes when the organizations become what they are not supposed to be and behave in ways that betray their real mission. Another thing is bureaucracy, for the pen of the bureaucracy may be mightier than that of the sword and can sometimes take you down.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.