March 3, 2010: For many years, Jim Santangelo ruled Los Angeles Local 848 with an iron hand. Now the members realize their local belongs to them and it's paying off.
Last weekend, a packed union hall shouted a big NO vote to a motion to approve spending $59,000 on a new GMC Yukon for Eric Tate, the local secretary-treasurer.
Tate was appointed to the position last October as the chosen successor to Santangelo, who was driven out of office in disgrace after TDU broke the story that the joint council quietly paid $500,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit involving his conduct.
Tate may want to continue the tradition of having Local 848 put union officials first, but members seem to have another idea.
Members report that Tate looked shocked when the vote was so lopsided against paying union funds for such an expensive ride. He mumbled something about having to get a bike instead. Maybe a member will bring him a bike to the next meeting. But what he really needs is a sense of union priorities.
The Local 848 bylaws [Section 14] require membership approval for expenditures over $10,000.