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Ousted Labor Leader Mickey Kasparian To Form New Union Coalition

Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1...

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, at election night party for mayoral candidate David Alvarez at Public Market, 1735 National Ave., February 11, 2014.

Ousted Labor Leader Mickey Kasparian To Form New Union Coalition

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Ebone Monet, anchor, KPBS Evening Edition

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The recently ousted president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council announced Tuesday he was forming a new coalition and taking some of the unions with him.

Mickey Kasparian was removed from his position by the president of the national AFL-CIO following a sexual harassment lawsuit, two discrimination lawsuits and months of infighting among labor leaders and Democratic officials.

Kasparian, who is also the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, made the announcement at a morning news conference in Mission Valley that was also attended by his accusers and protesters.

“It has been no secret that recently there have been rifts within the local labor movement. Internal disruption from those placing ego over the common good,” Kasparian said.

RELATED: Calls Grow For San Diego Union Boss To Step Down Amid Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination Allegations

He said the newly formed San Diego Working Families Council consists of the UFCW, Service Employees International Union Local 221, Teamsters Local 542, Office of Professional Employees International Union Local 30, Amalgamates Transit Union Local 1309, Laborers International Union Local 89 and the Communications Workers of America Local 9509.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Ebone Monet

Opposition signs at a demonstration outside of Kasparian’s press conference, May 9, 2017.

"The San Diego Working Families Council is a coalition of the largest and most powerful unions in San Diego County," Kasparian said. "We remain focused on standing behind working families and fighting day in and day out for social and economic justice."

“I want to make clear that we are bringing more than 45 percent of the revenue that was at the Labor Council and more than two-thirds of the political monies,” Kasparian said.

Sandy Naranjo filed a gender discrimination lawsuit after being fired by Kasparian. Retired co-worker Isabel Vasquez filed a sexual harassment claim, alleging sexual misconduct by Kasparian. And recently fired UFCW organizer Anabel Arauz filed a retaliation/discrimination claim against the union.

“Enough is enough. Basically, step aside and to all those other people, like the Democratic Party, all those people who try to say this is not true, open your eyes and stand up for what's right,” Aruaz said.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Ebone Monet

Protesters hold signs in opposition to Mickey Kasparian, May 9, 2017.

In addition to Kasparian being removed, AFC-CIO leaders also removed secretary treasurer Dale Kelly Bankehead due to disunity, disfunction and the planning of a rival organization.

"It has been no secret that recently there have been rifts within the local labor movement," Bankhead said. "Internal disruption by those placing ego over common good has gotten in the way of our ability to bring the collective influence of the union movement to bear on issues of vital importance to working families."

San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Jessica Hayes issued a statement regarding the changes in the local labor landscape, calling it a new direction for the labor movement in San Diego County.

"With strong leadership and a substantial membership of workers throughout the county, the new San Diego Working Families Council will be a powerhouse from day one," Hayes said. "At the same time, with more than 125 local unions, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council is alive and well."

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