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RENEGADES' EFFORT TO USE UNION EMPLOYEES AS PAWNS DENOUNCED AS EFFORT TO COVER UP CONTROVERSY OVER $500,000 LOAN FROM COMPETING UNION

RENEGADES' EFFORT TO USE UNION EMPLOYEES AS PAWNS DENOUNCED AS EFFORT
 TO COVER UP CONTROVERSY OVER $500,000 LOAN FROM COMPETING UNION
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- District No. 1-MEBA/NMU issued the following:
 The chairman and trustee of the Licensed Division of District No. 1-MEBA/NMU, the nation's largest maritime union, today blasted as "mean spirited and deceitful," claims by renegade officials that they had to take a $500,000 loan from the rival Seafarers International Union in order to pay the salaries of union employees who the District took off its payroll.
 Shortly after the former officials from the union's Licensed Division accepted the half-million dollar loan from the Seafarers, they attempted to explain away political fallout caused by the questionable loan. The renegade officials told union members that the loan was needed to pay the salaries of secretaries and other employees who, they falsely charged, had been terminated by the union after it placed the Licensed Division into trusteeship.
 The district placed the Licensed Division under trusteeship on Jan. 17, two days after the division's former officials attempted illegally to break away from its parent organization and form a new union. The organization the group claims to have formed ceased to exist in 1988 following the MEBA/NMU merger.
 "I find it unbelievably mean spirited and deceitful that these individuals have seen fit to use employees of the District as pawns in this latest desperate effort to twist the truth," said Licensed Division Trustee and Chairman Alexander C. Cullison. "To tell the membership that they were forced to go to the Seafarers for a half-million dollars because we refused to pay the salaries of our employees in the halls is a bald-faced lie," Cullison said. "It puts these loyal union employees in the middle of a fight they neither started nor have taken part in."
 "The simple fact," he continued, "is that we gave all non-elected clerical and support staff an opportunity to remain on the District No. 1-MEBA/NMU payroll regardless of who was in control of the halls in which they were working. We did this because we did not, and do not now, believe that innocent bystanders who work for this union should suffer because of political battles over which they have no control."
 "We know how uncomfortable it must be for these employees to work in halls that are owned by District No. 1-MEBA/NMU but are temporarily controlled by renegades. This is precisely why we gave them the opportunity to remain on the District payroll immediately after the trusteeship," continued Cullison, who also serves as a vice president of the union. "But instead of understanding the unique and sensitive position that these employees are in," Cullison said, "the renegades took advantage of their vulnerability and told the employees to get on their payroll because we weren't going to pay them anymore.
 "This is a total lie. The District's offer still stands to any employees who were taken in by their scare tactics. The only individuals who were terminated following the trusteeship were the renegade officials who are now doing everything in their power to fund their illegitimate organization." Cullison said that this includes "taking money from a rival labor union which is using its half-a-million-dollar loan as an opportunistic means to gain a foothold over our union and our members' jobs."
 The Seafarers and District No. 1-MEBA/NMU have had a decades' long history of friction provoked in large part by the competition for jobs in the continually shrinking maritime industry. Other friction possibly stems from the Seafarers' unsuccessful bid to accomplish a merger with the National Maritime Union (NMU) two years before MEBA and the NMU were able to work out mutually agreeable terms for a merger in 1988.
 After the former officials of the District's Licensed Division worked out the initial details of the $500,000 loan with the Seafarers, they later attempted to get the questionable loan approved at hastily called membership meetings. No advance notice of the purpose of the membership meetings was given, and fewer than 2 percent of the union's 30,000 members were in attendance to vote on accepting the questionable loan.
 Cullison called the renegade's latest charges against the District ironic, noting that "last year, these very individuals took actions that victimized employees of the union and several of its affiliates. This occurred," he said, "when the former officials terminated more than a dozen employees from coverage under the union's health and benefits plan." Their decision to deny coverage to the clerical and staff employees was reversed following complaints to the Department of Labor and pressure from the union and officials of companies holding contracts with the union.
 Cullison concluded by saying "the renegades' attempt to involve innocent employees in this effort to soften members' criticism over the Seafarer's loan shows that they really don't know or understand the first thing about the rights of working people.
 "Gordon Ward, the renegades' leader," added Cullison, "says that he only wants to represent working people, but then he turns around and lies to the union's employees on top of lying to our union's members. Obviously, this is just another example of Ward's, and the renegades', total unfitness to hold any responsible office in any union."
 -0- 2/13/92
 /CONTACT: David Keene for District No. 1-MEBA/NMU, 703-684-0550/ CO: District No. 1-MEBA/NMU ST: District of Columbia IN: MAR SU:


SB-DC -- DC025 -- 9800 02/13/92 13:58 EST
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Date:Feb 13, 1992
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