Nearly three years after the ouster of free-spending patriarch Gus Bevona, Local 32B-32J of the Service Employees Intl. Union, which represents doormen and other building workers in NYC, is once again in turmoil.
On Apr. 26, local SEIU delegate Ismat Kukic was indicted, along with 40+ members of NY crime families, for attempting to bribe union officials to replace union workers with non-union workers in a Brooklyn housing complex. What union dissidents want to know is: How did 32B-32J President Mike Fishman allow Kukic, whose normal union jurisdiction was in Manhattan, into 32B-32J’s Brooklyn jurisdiction? “Good question,” Fishman told Newsday, insisting that he is “fully cooperating with the federal authorities.”
First appointed to run 32B-32J after Bevona was kicked out, Fishman was elected in 2000, even as Carlos Guzman, whose civil lawsuit exposed Bevona’s corruption and brought about his ouster, accused Intl. President Andrew Stern and others of twisting the election in Fishman’s favor. Now, dissident Dominick Bentivegna has sued Fishman, charging that he improperly fired him from his union supervisor’s job after Bentivegna declared his candidacy for the local presidency. The dissidents also accuse Fishman of clamping down on dissent by cutting off speakers at union meetings. Fishman admits imposing a half-hour limit for comments at a recent meeting “because we had to give the room up and the union members had to get back to work.” [Newsday (NYC) 6/23/02]