Garment Union Elects New President After Resignation of Former President Amid Charges

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published May 11, 2011, issue of May 20, 2011.

The last in a line of historic garment unions has selected a new president, following the resignation of longtime union leader Bruce Raynor, amid charges of financial impropriety.

Workers United, which is a 100,000-member affiliate of the massive Service Employees International Union, elected Noel Beasley as its president on May 9. Beasley is director of the union’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board.

“We must move from defense to offense,” Beasley said in a press statement. “We must reclaim North America for working families and stop the attempts to roll back virtually every hard-fought victory of the 20th century.”

Raynor’s resignation, which took effect on May 7, came a year after a struggle in SEIU that followed the departure of President Andy Stern. Raynor backed the losing side in that fight, and some speculated that the internal union charges filed against him for misreporting $2,313 in meal expenses were politically motivated. But an SEIU spokesman said such speculation was false.

“[The investigation] started because our international union’s legal department received from multiple sources allegations that there were improprieties with financial resources,” the SEIU’s Marcus Mrowka said. “So as with any employee or office, an investigation was conducted which led to the filing of internal union charges of misconduct against Bruce Raynor.”

Contact Joshua Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com



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