By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“[E]ven though [Telincs] has been a corporation since 1999,” Wernig testified, according to a transcript obtained by the Weekly, “the trustees were not informed that they were the directors of [Telincs] until November 2003, therefore they had no active participation.”
By that time, Wernig testified, Telincs owed Local 99 nearly $1 million that it had borrowed to initially capitalize the corporation, to buy telecommunications equipment and to pay a substantial part of Telincs’ expenses. The loan came in the form of a promissory note dated January 19, 2000, in the amount of $354,043.14, Wernig testified. It was later amended upward, but after the beginning of 2001 there was no further tracking of the outstanding debt owed by the corporation to the local, Wernig testified.
“The debt . . . changes almost on a daily basis due to the shared facilities and the shared employees between Local 99 and [Telincs],” Wernig testified. “Where does the debt stand today? It’s impossible to calculate.”
Wernig testified that at the end of 2003 the total debt the corporation owed the union was $741,661, while Telincs’ net worth was “minus $126,006.”
Janett Humphries, the Local 99 president who was ousted when the SEIU international office took over in 2004, found herself at the heart of allegations of financial mismanagement at a trusteeship hearing. Representatives of the international cited records showing trips taken by Humphries’ daughters at union expense.
But Humphries said any expenses were for union purposes, and that all personal travel costs were reimbursed.
As for political decisions, she said, they went through Newbery.
“If he asked me to sign anything, I trusted him and I would sign it,” Humphries said.
Humphries, now retired, first came to Local 99 when it was in an earlier trusteeship, and helped reform and expand the union.
As the international was preparing to step in, she said, president Andy Stern asked her to fire Newbery, but she did not have the authority to do so.
Attorney Ricardo Torres II said Humphries has hired him to defend her against allegations that she did anything improper as union president.
“She has done nothing wrong,” Torres said. “She has nothing to hide. She needs to be given her reputation back.”
Ben Boyd, a spokesman for the international, declined to comment on the criminal probe, but he said the trusteeship was a “serious matter” and that its purpose was to restore member control.
“I can tell you there were things woefully wrong at that local,” Boyd said.
Christine Pelisek contributed to this story.
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