What Happens in Chinatown, Stays in Vegas

“They lied to us. They stole from us. They put our contracts and our families’ financial security at risk, and they got caught red-handed,” said Erica Boddie, a Sr. Receptionist and Labor Tri-Chair of the Workplace Safety Committee at Kaiser San Francisco. “Today the world knows without a shadow of a doubt that they are undemocratic and willing to work directly against members’ interests for their own personal power. They aren’t union reformers, they are union busters.”

Quick! Someone hire one of these guys to run our union!

That is apparently the reaction of the officers of the Clark County Education Association when they named John Vellardita to be the union’s executive director. According to the CCEA press release, Vellardita has “a proven record in negotiations, membership organizing, and union activism.” That’s one way of putting it.

Vellardita was one of the primary players in the massive internal struggle that engulfed SEIU and Sal Rosselli’s National Union of Healthcare Workers (background here). Vellardita was one of 16 defendants ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages by a federal court, stemming from their actions to prevent an SEIU trusteeship. Vellardita was involved in a series of cloak-and-dagger activities, including holding secret meetings in San Francisco’s Chinatown because he believed the union’s offices were “under surveillance,” presumably by SEIU.

Asked why he hired Vellardita over 13 other candidates, CCEA President Ruben Murillo said, “He has an issue back there. But we feel he did it for his members. They didn’t want to lose their local.”