Laborers' Local 368 accused of financial misdeeds
Its headquarters writes a letter that orders a trustee to take over the union
The local office of a construction workers union has been ordered under control of a trustee by the union's international headquarters, which is accusing it of financial mismanagement.
A letter signed by the Laborers' International Union of North America's general president, Terence M. O'Sullivan, was posted yesterday on the front door of the union's Local 368 headquarters at 1617 Palama St., notifying members that the organization was in "emergency trusteeship."
The union, said the letter, was experiencing "serious and ongoing problems," as revealed by a recent audit of its internal operations. The local is alleged to have committed serious mismanagement of the job referral guidelines -- for instance, giving favored jobs and positions to officers' family members or other favored persons instead of qualified job candidates.
In addition, the letter said that officers' family members and other staff have been allowed to purchase union-owned vehicles for less than fair market value -- sometimes after costly repairs were made at union expense.
The general executive board attorney's office is investigating annual trips to the Philippines by union and management trustees which were purportedly to investigate the needs of retired members residing there at a price tag of $450,000 and higher over the last five years.
Another trip has been scheduled for early February of this year, despite the questionable nature and benefit of these trips, says the letter.
The letter goes on to state that officers and staff failed to repay cash advances in a timely manner, taking out loans in excess of $2,000, and also failed to provide sufficient detail in monthly financial reports or maintain sufficient insurance coverage on property and vehicles.
According to Local 368's December newsletter, the local's executive board consists of Melvin Cremer, president; Clayton Saguibo, vice president; Benjamin Saguibo, business manager/ secretary-treasurer; and James Kuroiwa Jr., recording secretary. Other executive board members include Herbert T.C. Loo, Ricardo Pagatpatan and Pete Lindsey.
Board members could not be reached for comment by press time.
Nationally, the Laborers' International Union of North America, based in Washington D.C., has more than 700,000 members. Local 368 was chartered on December 1954.
In the letter posted at the Palama Street headquarters yesterday, O'Sullivan appointed Pacific Southwest Regional Manager and Vice President Rocco Davis as trustee for Local 368, with assistant Pacific Southwest Regional Manager Kenneth A. Casarez as deputy trustee.
The letter calls for the turnover of all of the local union's books and records, including vehicles, keys, credit cards, telephones and pagers, and suspension of the local's regular meetings.
Members will be notified once a date has been set for a hearing to be conducted by an independent hearing officer, who will determine whether the trusteeship will continue, the letter said.