Sunday, January 19, 2003

Former director
of UPW accused
of sex harassment

The union recently settled
another harassment
complaint against him

By Rick Daysog

Former United Public Workers State Director Gary Rodrigues, who was convicted on federal embezzlement and money laundering charges in November, is now battling an allegation that he sexually harassed a UPW employee.

Attorneys who have represented Rodrigues said the alleged harassment did not occur.

Jeanne Endo, a senior accountant with the UPW, filed the sexual harassment complaint against the UPW in April with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Details of the complaint are not public, but people familiar with Endo's case said she alleged that Rodrigues sexually harassed her several times at the UPW's offices in Kalihi.

Endo's complaint said the incidents occurred during a five-year period ending in 2001, sources said.

The complaint is not the first in which a UPW employee has claimed that she was harassed by Rodrigues. The union recently settled a 1998 sexual harassment complaint by Rodrigues' ex-girlfriend and former secretary, Georgietta Carroll.

Both Carroll and Endo testified against Rodrigues in his 17-day embezzlement and money laundering trial.

Rodrigues could not be reached for comment, but an attorney who defended the former labor leader in both the criminal trial and the sexual harassment case said the incidents alleged by Endo did not take place.

Another former attorney for Rodrigues said that Endo filed the complaint after a supervisor raised questions about her work.

Endo and her attorney, David Simons, had no comment. Simons also handled Carroll's complaint.

Tim Riera, the director of the EEOC's Hawaii office, had no response, citing federal confidentiality rules.

The EEOC, which enforces sexual harassment and discrimination issues in the workplace, has the authority to open an investigation or dismiss the matter.

If the agency decides to take the case, it can file suit in federal court or seek a settlement with the employer.

The 61-year-old Rodrigues, who had served as state director of the 12,000-member UPW from 1981 until November, had been one of the state's most powerful labor leaders. On Nov. 19, a federal jury found him guilty on 101 counts of embezzlement, money laundering and mail fraud stemming from kickbacks he received from the union's insurers. His daughter, Robin Haunani Rodrigues Sabatini, was convicted on 95 counts.

Rodrigues resigned from his $200,000-a-year job three days after his conviction, and shortly after that, the UPW's mainland parent, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, suspended the UPW's 34-member board and placed the local union under its control.

Rodrigues, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 5.

Endo testified in Rodrigues' trial that the union leader destroyed key union records that showed that Rodrigues and his daughter received kickbacks from the union's insurers.

They included documents that listed more than $14,000 in consulting fees paid to Allan Loughrin, Carroll's now-deceased stepfather.

The payments were to cover a loan that Loughrin gave to Rodrigues.

Endo, who saved copies of the records and later presented them to federal prosecutors, also testified that she discovered documents showing that the union's insurers paid about $90,000 in 1996 and 1997 to Sabatini's company, Four Winds RSK Inc.

Endo has been a UPW employee for the past nine years.

Prior to that, Endo served as a controller at United Truck Rental & Leasing Inc. In 1993, she filed a complaint against United Truck Rental, alleging that the company's president subjected her to racial and sexual harassment. The case was settled in 1998.

Endo's complaint comes as the UPW is conducting an extensive audit of its finances in the wake of Rodrigues' conviction.

UPW officials have said the audit would examine retirement, sick leave and unpaid vacation time owed to Rodrigues as well as other financial issues relating to Rodrigues' management of the union.

Peter Trask, the UPW's administrator, declined comment when asked about Endo's complaint, saying it involves personnel issues that are in litigation.

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --