The Services Employees International Union (SEIU), the second largest union in the nation, a huge Democratic Party supporter, and representing a majority-female workforce largely made up of immigrant women and women of color, has spearheaded a “Fight for $15” minimum wage campaign.
But now executives with the union, who were heavily involved with the “Fight for $15” minimum wage campaign, have either been fired or are resigning as allegations of sexual harassment run rampant.
Bloomberg reported that on Thursday, Kendall Fells, one of the top national leaders of SEIU’s "Fight For 15" campaign, had resigned, and Detroit leader Mark Raleigh was fired. SIEU spokesperson Sahar Wali said, "As a result of information that has come to light through our ongoing internal investigation, today SEIU took action on two senior staff.” An SEIU spokeswoman stated, “These personnel actions are the culmination of this stage of the investigation which brought to light the serious problems related to abusive behavior towards staff, predominantly female staff.”
In October, SEIU Executive Vice President Scott Courtney, the chief strategist of “Fight for $15,” was suspended after he married a union employee. Buzzfeed News reported, “More than a dozen current and former staffers interviewed by BuzzFeed News said complaints about top-level staff on the Fight for 15 were an open secret, and that complaints about abusive behavior by organizers who reported to top strategist Courtney led to no action.” Courtney reportedly had a history of dating subordinates.
After Courtney resigned a week later, Sahar Wali, spokesperson for SEIU, emailed BuzzFeed News:
This morning, President Mary Kay Henry accepted Scott Courtney’s resignation as an elected officer and member of SEIU. This comes a week after she suspended him from his assigned duties based on preliminary information that surfaced through an internal investigation launched to look into questions about to potential violations of our union’s anti-nepotism policy, efforts to evade our Code of Ethics and subsequent complaints related to sexual misconduct and abusive behavior towards union staff," Wali added.
Buzzfeed News added:
Seven people who have worked with Courtney, including current and former SEIU staffers, told BuzzFeed News the top official had a history of sexual relationships with young women staffers — who were subsequently promoted, they said. … Two people who spoke with BuzzFeed News also said no significant action was taken after staffers reported abuse and sexual harassment by supervisors — who reported to Courtney. “Nothing happened on those campaigns without Scott knowing," one of the sources said.
Also in October, SEIU fired Caleb Jennings, who had spearheaded "Fight For 15" in Chicago.
How close was the SEIU to Barack Obama? He stated when he was a presidential candidate, “Your agenda has been my agenda in the United States Senate.”