By Ken Stone
Updated at 8:40 a.m. Feb. 17, 2017
Mickey Kasparian is under critical scrutiny by the national AFL-CIO, according to reports circulating in San Diego’s labor community.The attention — alleged in email, text messages and even a parody Twitter account — could not be officially verified by Times of San Diego. But its origin appears to be a letter sent by the local Building and Construction Trades Council.
In late December, that umbrella group of 20 affiliated unions wrote AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in Washington, D.C.
Signed by business manager Tom Lemmon, the 450-word letter lists a series of complaints against Kasparian, president of the local grocery workers union and the politically powerful San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council.
The building trades council said the rival Labor Council “is failing on its chartered purpose.” The letter gave eight reasons.
Besides two lawsuits against Kasparian by female former employees of UFCW Local 135 and a retaliation complaint by a current employee, Lemmon said Kasparian’s labor council “works with non-affiliated and anti-union groups to undermine the [building trades council] in our representation of workers, weaken us politically, and to the detriment of our collective bargaining rights.”
Lemmon declined to comment on the presence of that parent group, but replied: “We will continue to handle this issue [through] the Labor Council’s internal process.”
In December, Kasparian’s council favored Myrtle Cole as president of the San Diego City Council, while Lemmon’s group backed fellow Democrat David Alvarez. Cole won the role.
Meanwhile, a supporter of Kasparian’s accusers said: “The AFL-CIO will be at next Wednesday’s Labor Council executive board meeting. And so will we. We plan to protest this morning meeting as well as the evening delegates meeting.”
Earlier Thursday, an anti-Kasparian Twitter account called @RatfaceMickey addressed Trumka directly, saying: “You don’t need to send your @AFLCIO boys to San Diego! Mickey the Rat has these bitches under control! I got this!”
— Mickey The Rat (@RatfaceMickey) February 16, 2017
Among the followers of that 3-month-old parody account is Anthony “Marc” Perrone, president of the 1.3 million-member United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.
Kasparian — who also faces calls to resign or step aside — didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did Labor Council spokeswoman Samantha Peterson.
The Labor Council — which calls itself “not a union, but a union of unions” — is the local “central body” affiliate of the AFL-CIO, claiming 135 affiliated labor groups in San Diego and Imperial counties.
The local council is one of nearly 500 state and local labor councils of the AFL-CIO and “the heart of the labor movement,” says another description.
“We are democratically elected bodies dedicated to represent the interests of working people at the state and local level,” said the AFL-CIO site. “We mobilize our members and community partners to advocate for social and economic justice and we strive daily to vanquish oppression and make our communities better for all people — regardless of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic or national origin.”
The AFL-CIO didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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