Members Protest Powerful Union Head Calling for Fair Election - NBC 7 San Diego

Members Protest Powerful Union Head Calling for Fair Election

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Protest to Remove Union Head

    NBC 7 Omari Fleming reports on the latest push to remove Mickey Kasparian. (Published Monday, July 16, 2018)

    One of San Diego's most powerful union leaders, Mickey Kasparian, is in the crosshairs of some of his members and former employees for what they call an abuse of power and sexual harassment.

    Outside the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 Union headquarters on Camino del Rio South, Monday evening, protestors chanted, "We want elections! We want elections."

    They’re hoping to replace union president Kasparian, who’s politically influential and in charge of protecting tens of thousands of union employees from abuse. Now he's being accused of abusing his power.

    Union members say he’s playing a “chess game” so he can’t be replaced as president.

    One of his recent plays, merging the Local 135 with another union.

    Critics claim he buried notice of the merger vote in the union's monthly magazine.

    Had the merger gone through, Kasparian would have been allowed to stay in power for another three-year term.

    “You join the union to be protected from a bully, so when the president of your union is a bully and he's the monster, it is frustrating," said member Jessica Lopez.

    Kasparian released a statement that reads:

    “Most of the people there have personal agendas and are not even members of our union. I, along with my dedicated staff will continue to focus in on what’s really important...protecting and improving the lives of UFCW Local 135 members and their families."

    These are just the latest allegations of abuse of power against Kasparian.

    There were two sexual assault cases earlier this year, one by an employee and the other by a county worker and executive board member of another union, SEIU Local 221.

    Another female employee settled a retaliation case.

    “You want justice for all the people he’s hurt. You want justice for all the money he’s taken from us for his personal agenda,” said Lopez.

    The Local 135 Union’s Grievance Director says he was fired for speaking the truth about how union dues were used to pay Kasparian's legal fees.

    Kasparian didn't respond to a request for comment on that issue.

    Members say that's par for the course of how Kasparian uses fear tactics against employees.

    Kasparian has denied all of the allegations against him.

    Union by-laws say there needs to be an election by the end of this year.

    NBC 7 first reported on allegations involving Kasparian in December 2016.

    In February 2017, a Chula Vista councilmember called for the labor leader's resignation.