Letter says $800,000
payout due Rodrigues

A UPW official formally
charges the executive board

By Rick Daysog

A United Public Workers official has filed formal charges with the union's mainland parent, saying the UPW's executive board improperly suspended its state president and illegally selected a successor to convicted former state Director Gary Rodrigues.

In a Nov. 24 letter to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, UPW Executive Assistant Dayton Nakanelua also alleged that Rodrigues' replacement and longtime supporter, Dwight Takeno, agreed to pay Rodrigues about $800,000 to cover unused vacation time and sick leave.

Rodrigues, who had headed the 12,000-member UPW since 1981, resigned on Nov. 22 after a federal jury found him guilty of 101 counts of embezzlement, mail fraud and money laundering stemming from a kickback scheme involving union medical and dental plans.

"The very board that did not fulfill their fiduciary duty to protect our members' moneys is now permitting Rodrigues ... to continue to control and manipulate the UPW during his 'retirement' through Takeno," Nakanelua said.

Robert Miller, a UPW attorney, said that Nakanelua's allegations have no validity and that the board's selection of Rodrigues' successor was conducted according to the UPW's constitution. He said that Nakanelua was the first person the board asked to apply for the position, but he declined.

Miller said that neither the board nor Takeno have agreed to pay any money to Rodrigues for unused vacation and sick leave, and he questioned the $800,000 figure cited by Nakanelua.

He also noted that Takeno has agreed to conduct an independent audit of the UPW's finances and plans to call in outside experts to review any vacation pay, sick leave and other benefits owed to Rodrigues and other UPW members.

"There is no agreement to pay Mr. Rodrigues," Miller said.

According to Nakanelua's complaint, the board held an illegal meeting when it chose Takeno, the UPW's former director of research and legislation, as Rodrigues' successor. It also improperly suspended UPW state President George Yasumoto, who attempted to cancel the meeting, Nakanelua said.

Nakanelua, a former director of the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, is asking that AFSCME hold a trial on his allegations. He also is calling for AFSCME to reinstate Yasumoto and remove Takeno and all UPW board members.

Nakanelua could not be reached for comment.

The complaint is the second filed by Nakanelua. Shortly after Rodrigues' conviction on Nov. 19, Nakanelua asked AFSCME to remove Rodrigues as state director and order him to pay more than $500,000 in restitution to the UPW. Two days later, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee suspended Rodrigues and named Yasumoto as the union's top executive.

Yasumoto later appointed Nakanelua as the union's chief administrator, but that decision was canceled by the board.

Nakanelua's latest complaint comes as several rank-and-file members have petitioned AFSCME to place the local union under trusteeship, reinstate Yasumoto as state president and remove all board members.

The petitioners, citing Takeno's appointment as state director, believe that Rodrigues continues to exert undue influence on the union.

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