Thursday, January 14, 1999

UPW board to
discuss use of
union funds

Members want to know
about alleged illegal use of
funds by Gary Rodrigues

By Ian Y. Lind


The United Public Workers' executive board is expected to answer questions tonight about the reported use of union funds to settle a sexual harassment complaint and other controversial matters involving state director Gary Rodrigues.

The board agreed to respond after being confronted by two dozen UPW members in November, according to Keith Chudzik, a Board of Water Supply employee who attended that meeting. The dissident members didn't get many answers at that time but did extract a promise from the board to respond this month.

"I wouldn't say the board stonewalled (in November), but it was a combination of 'I don't knowing' and stonewalling," said Chudzik, a UPW chief steward.

An anonymous notice being circulated to UPW members this week cites several issues expected to be addressed at the meeting:

bullet Whether union funds were paid to settle the sexual harassment complaint filed against Rodrigues by his former secretary, Georgietta Carroll.

Carroll, who was the highest paid woman on the union staff when she left the UPW last year, had a long-standing personal relationship with Rodrigues that included joint ownership of a home in Bend, Ore.

She disclosed her complaint in testimony before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board early last year, but has declined to answer questions since that time.

A petition that circulated several months ago said the union might have paid as much as $300,000 to settle Carroll's complaint.

bullet Whether Log Structures Inc., a company owned by Rodrigues, had a role in providing building materials for UPW office buildings on the neighbor islands.

The company was for several years the only authorized dealer in Hawaii for Lodge Log Homes, the Idaho firm that supplied log packages for three union halls. Rodrigues' company was deleted from the dealers' list following a Star-Bulletin story late last year.

bullet Whether the union paid for trips to Oregon by union staff who did maintenance on Rodrigues' home in Bend.

The Star-Bulletin reported earlier this week that top union officials traveled to Oregon several times a year, and did jobs ranging from cutting trees to mowing the lawn.

Several thousand UPW members have signed a petition criticizing Rodrigues as undemocratic and questioning the use of their dues money for the Carroll settlement, but the petition effort has been suspended pending the outcome of tonight's board meeting, according to several people involved.

Tonight's meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the union's School Street headquarters.

E-mail to City Desk

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