Thursday, July 12, 2001

Rutledge contests
Local 5 election

He files multiple objections
to the vote that put Eric Gill
in charge of the union

By Russ Lynch

Defeated hotel workers union election candidate Tony Rutledge today filed nearly 30 objections to the way the recent election was held.

The vote put Eric Gill in charge of the 10,000-member union, Local 5 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees, AFL-CIO.

Several allegations concern the way ballots were handled in the July 6 election, including what Rutledge and his slate of officers say were improper decisions on who was eligible to vote.

The allegations, sent to the union's international headquarters in Washington, D.C., also include a charge that Filipino members of Local 5 were paid cash to hand their ballots over to campaign workers for Orlando Soriano, who was subsequently elected president.

"They were sworn to secrecy but reported this," said the letter calling for another election, which was signed by Rutledge, who was a candidate for financial secretary-treasurer; Arlene Ilae, an unsuccessful candidate for president; and Kaui Akana, unsuccessful candidate for senior vice president.

Gill, who won the top paid-management post of financial secretary-treasurer with 21 votes more than Rutledge, could not be reached for comment on Rutledge's charges, nor could Soriano. Both are in Los Angeles attending a convention of the international union.

Also unreachable was San Francisco-based Sherri Chiesa, who last year was appointed by the international union as trustee to run Local 5 and try to push Gill-Rutledge squabbling aside while the union negotiated a master contract at the major Waikiki hotels. Chiesa oversaw the election and when Gill's slate was installed she declared that her job was done and she returned to the mainland. Chiesa is also at the convention in Los Angeles, union workers said.

Among the Rutledge group's objections is the charge that the Gill slate and that of another candidate illegally received money and other assistance from employers and the Teamsters Union.

"There are other objections to the conduct of the election for which the evidence can be provided," the Rutledge group said after listing what they said were the 28 major objections. "These are the primary areas of objection, which requires that this election be rerun with the proper safeguards, standards and procedures," they said in a letter to John Wilhelm, general international president, as well as to Chiesa and Pat Richardson, an international vice president.

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