• authored by sleK
  • published Tue, Aug 14, 2001

Top Officials Knew

Rep warned UFCW brass about problems with Local 777 e-board, training & ed fund

Senior UFCW officials in Canada and the US were alerted to constitutional non-compliance issues and the unauthorized disbursement of thousands of dollars from the Local 777's Training and Education Trust Fund in the summer of 1995 according to documents obtained by MFD.

In a series of letters to Local 777 President Whitlock and copied to UFCW Canadian Director Kukovica and International President Dority, Hugh Finnamore, former UFCW International Rep, drew the senior officials' attention to:

Whitlock's failure to call an election for Local 777 executive board positions - whose terms had expired two years earlier.

Whitlock's appointment to the local executive of six more vice presidents than permitted by the UFCW International constitution. One of these appointees was Whitlock's wife, an airline employee with no affiliation to the local.

Further correspondence from Finnamore alerted UFCW officials to significant unauthorized disbursements from the Local's Training and Education Fund. This included $975,000 towards the purchase of a building to house the union office. Finnamore, who resigned as a Trustee of the Fund earlier that year because of concerns over the Fund's administration, claims in his letter that the disbursements were made without proper authorization of Fund Trustees.

Finnamore received no formal response to his letters although an election for Local 777 executives was held. His questions relating to the Training Fund have never been answered.

Members need to understand and involve themselves in the operation of these funds. In MFD Forum earlier this week, Finnamore explained why:

"The UFCW Local 777 Education and Training Fund Trust Agreement is very vague about what the money is to be used for. The fund has taken in millions of dollars since its inception, but who knows for what they've been disbursed and how they've been administered. The Fund Trust is a separate entity from the Local Union; therefore, the members have no say in how the fund is administered. The Education Fund Trustees have full control. The Local 777 President has full and final say who the three trustees, which includes himself, will be. The President controls the Fund by appointing for life whomever he wishes and "in his discretion, may remove any Trustee at any time." [Trustees] have the authority to spend money on salaries and other benefits. For example they can hire an administrator who can put other people on the Fund's payroll. What those people are paid is nobody's business but the President and his appointees."

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