Trial opens in dispute
over union election

By Rick Daysog

The business manager for the union representing more than 2,000 Verizon Hawaii Inc. workers took part in a scheme to eliminate his only challenger for re-election, according to a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor.

But an attorney for the union said its 2001 election was conducted by the book and that the challenger was disqualified as a result of appropriate disciplinary action.

Those were the opening arguments in the labor department's federal court suit to overturn the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1357 election for business manager and financial secretary.

In the four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway, the labor department is also calling for a new election under its supervision.

Barbara Matthews, a labor department lawyer, alleged that the IBEW's business manager, Harold Dias Jr., and other members of the union mischaracterized evidence to disqualify Dias' opponent, George Waialeale, who had served as the IBEW's business manager until 1998.

In court papers, Matthews said the union improperly banned Waialeale from holding office for five years after it discovered more than $80,000 in questionable union expenditures.

She said the union did not hold hearings prior to the disciplinary charges, nor did Waialeale have the authority to sign checks for the expenses.

Rebecca Covert, an attorney for the IBEW, argued that the disciplinary proceedings against Waialeale were conducted according to union rules. She said the IBEW has held hearings on the matter and interviewed witnesses.

She said the IBEW first raised questions about the expenditures when its auditor, Gerald Miura, was asked to review the union's books.

The expenditures were for legal bills, office supplies and other costs that were not approved by the union's board.

"There were some questionable expenditures that were not reviewed by the board," Covert said. "Mr. Waialeale was afforded his due process."

IBEW Local 1357
U.S. Department of Labor

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