A onetime rising star in national labor circles who headed California’s biggest union local was convicted Monday on federal charges that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his low-income members.
Tyrone Freeman, who represented about 190,000 homecare workers as a leader of the Service Employees International Union, was found guilty on 14 counts after a 10-day trial in Los Angeles.
Jurors deliberated two and a half days before returning their verdict. The trial followed a nearly four-year investigation triggered by a series of Times reports on Freeman’s financial practices.
“This was a case about abuse and betrayal,” U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. said in a statement after the verdict. “Freeman abused his position as leader of the SEIU, and he betrayed the hardworking people whose interests he was supposed to represent.”
Freeman, 43, faces a maximum of more than 180 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing in April. His attorneys declined to comment.
Monday’s verdict marks the end of a steep fall from grace for a man groomed for a major role in the SEIU, the 2-million-member labor juggernaut that is a dominant force in worker organizing campaigns and Democratic elections from coast to coast.
Another attack on business and state rights (right to work states)
Tomorrow, Democrats in both houses of Congress plan to introduce a union-organizing bill that is labor’s top priority for the year, Democratic officials said.
The result could be a high-decibel, high-stakes brawl between business and labor, which strongly supported President Barack Obama. Unions have been getting impatient for attention to the issue, and the push to introduce legislation is a way to ratchet up pressure on Congress.
Any doubts about congressional leaders’ priorities on education were erased Monday with the release of the new $450 billion omnibus bill. It includes a provision to eliminate the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, which is currently helping low-income children attend private schools in the nation’s capital.
If adopted, the measure will basically ensure that 1,700 of the poorest children in D.C. are forced to leave their private schools and transfer back into the District’s low-performing and often dangerous public schools. Angered scholarship parents may wonder why Congress is moving so quickly to end this $14 million program just as the federal government is showering money on Wall Street and the auto companies.