Duran Defeated in Re-Election Bid at UFCW

Ernie Duran, Jr., the powerful head of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, is now the former head of UFCW. As The Denver Post reports:

Ernie Duran Jr., the longest-standing president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union, lost his re-election bid this week as union members approved sweeping leadership changes amid allegations of nepotism and misspent funds.

Members elected rank-and-file challenger Kim Cordova, a former union representative currently working at Safeway, to take over as president Jan. 1. They also approved a new secretary treasurer and recording secretary and 19 of 25 board members who ran as part of Cordova’s team. The six other board positions were unchallenged.

“I’m excited to be the first woman UFCW president here in Colorado,” said Cordova, 42. “Members spoke loud and clear – they wanted change. It was obvious because our whole team won.”

The UFCW Local 7 is one of the state’s largest unions, with 23,000 members, including grocery- store, meatpacking and private-health-care workers.

Duran declined to comment through his secretary.

But his daughter and the union’s staff attorney, Crisanta Duran, said a challenge of the election will be lodged with the U.S. Department of Labor within 15 days.

We don’t know any details about what did or did not happen that might necessitate a new election, but for anyone involved in Democratic politics this would be the end of an era (good or bad) if the results are upheld. Politically-speaking, UFCW has been one of the most powerful labor unions in Colorado for years, and their electoral involvement isn’t likely to change under Cordova. Nevertheless, Duran’s defeat is certainly unexpected, though not completely unexplainable (as the rest of the Post story indicates).

57 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Rubber Soul says:

    Crisanta Duran is quoted as saying the vote was close.

    Therein lies the problem.

    The girl cannot count!.  According to http://www.voteernieout.com Ernie Duran lost by a 57 to 43% margin and Crisanta lost by a 62 to 38% tally.  Not too close. Even funnier is her statement that they will file a complaint about the way the election that the local was responsible for was handled. Sounds like a whiny poor loser to me.

    What will the Durans do now without the union candy store?

    • TheDeminator says:

      Crisanta is a great voice for the progressive community. She will go on to bigger and amazing things.  

      • Rubber Soul says:

        That’s a good one,

        While the union was negotiating weak contracts Crisanta and her brother received huge salaries and ran up thousands of dollars in expenses going to football games and nice restaurants. All spelled out on http://www.voteernieout.com.

        The union overwhelming rejected her candidacy for Secretary – Treasurer. This despite the fact that the Durans spent tens of thousands of dollars and the opposition only had a home made web site and dogged determination.

        She’s a great voice for feather bedding and being a poor loser.  

        • redstateblues says:

          It would appear that you are a poor winner.

        • TheDeminator says:

          The trolls are out today… Kim Cordova underling… you should be planning to take over a Union.  I am on Team Crisanta, I think she earned every penny.

          Being I am not a UFCW member I do not understand the inner workings of UFCW nor do I claim to do so. So I will not speak to the membership of the union. Clearly they were unhappy but it shows that 13%  of the vote clearly speaks for the whole union.

          She’s a great voice for feather bedding and being a poor loser.     What?  You do not even make sense.

          • Rubber Soul says:

            Kim Cordova is one of the UFCW’s best organizers. The Durans  moved her out of the union job to make room for highly paid relatives. If, he had it to do over again the two kids should have taken a pay cut to keep Kim out organizing workers.

            It was a free election administered by the NLRB. It was an all mail ballot election.

            Bottom line Crisanta who is immensely disliked by the membership got whooped.

            Kim Cordova will revive a union that had lost its way.

            As for being a voice for progressives Crisanta needs to realize that without her Daddy’s money no one will pay any attention at all to what she has to say.

            The workers were the big winners and that should not be forgotten.  

            • I don’t know anything about Ms. Cordova, but I do hope you are right about her and that she is a great boost to the UFCW.

              I think you are wrong about Crisanta. She is a smart, charismatic, progressive Latina, with a law degree and years of experience playing in the big leagues of Colorado politics. There is no way that she doesn’t have a huge future.

              It looks like there will be some brawling in the weeks ahead, and it will probably damage everyone involved for a while, but give it a little time and no matter how the scandals of this election shake out I think that Crisanta comes out ahead.

              In fact, although it has obviously been a huge advantage to be Ernie’s kid, losing this battle might help her get out of his shadow and prove she is something more.

              • Rubber Soul says:

                Overwhelmingly rejected by the members of her union. Responsible for feather bedding and unconscionable expense accounts. Under investigation by the NLRB.

                And to top it off when defeated she says that the other side said mean things so let’s ahve a new election. How stupid is that?

                Bright future please. The only future she has is finding a good lawyer to handle what could be serious misconduct allegations against her and her father and brother. Crisanta is in the hottest seat because as a lawyer for the union she had to approve these items.

                As for being a leader every job she ever got in politics was paid for by her daddy. Unless her daddy gets back into power she is done as a political force of any type.  

        • Their opponents had a smear report published by a questionable journalist while the vote was being mailed.

          • RedGreenRedGreen says:

            The gist of the story was reported widely last fall by all sorts of journalists, “questionable” or not. What you say is ridiculous.

          • Automaticftp says:

            Have you read the NLRB standards and cases around ordering a new election?  I suggest you do so, because once you have, you will realize that there is almost no chance of a new election.  Apparently Ernie recognized that or he wouldn’t have announced he’s leaving anyway.

            As for a “smear” campaign, as RedGreen pointed out, the gist of the story had been widely reported previously.  Besides, it is not like the Durans are contesting many of the facts in the stories–rather, they are engaging in a smear campaign of their own.  

    • One Queer Dude says:

      Ask Ramona to get them jobs with the Romanoff campaign?

  2. mtnhigh says:

    Seeing Ernie go away is a GOOD thing!  My problem is seeing Crisanta going away. I always thought she was cute!  LOL!!!

    THANK GOD she got her looks from her mother!

    • Fidel's dirt nap says:

      The nepotism, big salaries and abuse of expense accounts are really inexcusable when you think about how much this “representation” comes directly out of hard working peoples’ salaries.

      I hope they get better, more responsible representation from Kim Cordova. They deserve it.

      • Middle of the Road says:

        Something like 18 or 19 out of 25 seats that are aligned with her won. I’d say that’s a blow out. And after reading the linked article, I’d say good riddance. There’s nepotism and then there’s naked ambition nepotism. This falls into the second category.  

        • Fidel's dirt nap says:

          42 years old, 24 years as a UFCW member, worked up her way from the ground up starting as a clerk at Safeway in “85.

          Someone who has seen hard work ?  I think so.  

          Now she’s the first female head of UFCW 7 ? What’s not to like ?  I wish her well.

          • Middle of the Road says:

            New blood with loads of experience sounds good to me. And Duran said this was his last time running for re-election so what’s his beef? He just got “retired” a little earlier than he expected.  

  3. Half Glass FullHalf Glass Full says:

    With a margin like that, against an incumbent to boot, what on earth is Duran’s basis for a legal challenge? Will someone in his camp please explain?

  4. EMRosa says:

    For years I’ve heard horror stories about dirty shenanigans from former staffers, but could never get a hold of the evidence to back it up. Either way, Duran’s dealings with money don’t look very good at all.

    Way to go SquareState for breaking the story!

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      Squarestate did a great job circulating the House of Duran’s talking points quickly, that’s about it.

      I am personally very glad this happened though. Duran nepotism has been the wink-wink joke among progressives for a long time now, and it always made me feel dirty. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like Crisanta personally but she was part of a very bad situation that threatened to undermine the UFCW’s credibility. They have to go, and she has to go with them.

      And this talk about challenging the results is totally ridiculous. Lots of elections have a low turnout, lots of people say mean things during elections. YOU LOST. Find a new family gravy boat, and let’s get some leadership at UFCW who can actually relate to what these workers are going through. Challenging such clear results will only prove what those who voted to oust the Durans already knew: this was always about Ernie.

  5. gertie97 says:

    And take your goons with you.

  6. Mike Collins says:

    We are in the process of challenging the recent union election. Less than 13% of members voted and it was a very close race. Further, there are numerous allegations of election rule violations. We intend on appealing the decision to the International Union and the Department of Labor, if necessary. If you didn’t receive a ballot or have information about the defamatory allegations made against Local 7, please call 1.800.854.7054.

    Channel 7

    The union election is what is behind the defamatory accusations made on Channel 7 – they are purely political, and they are not supported by the facts. Although President Duran gave John Ferrugia, Channel 7 reporter, four dates and times that he could meet in a professional setting, he was instead ambushed by him in the union parking lot.  

    The accusations are intended to negatively impact grocery negotiations and the 17,000 members and the families counting on a fair contract, and give these highly-profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations an upper hand. We ran a clean campaign in the union election, to not distract from the current negotiations.  Ironically, the corporations are now telling workers to view the Channel 7 interview – because they do not want workers to get a fair deal at the bargaining table.

    Truth about union expenses  

    The Channel 7 interview alleges that union funds were used for personal use. This is an outright lie. If this were the truth, the Department of Labor would have filed criminal charges against the leadership of Local 7 and President Duran would be in jail.

    Furthermore, all expenses and travel are approved by the Executive Board and subsequently voted on and approved by the membership at their monthly membership meetings. All salaries are voted on by the Executive Board and voted on and approved by the membership at their monthly membership meetings.

    There are individuals who serve on the Executive Board who approved all of the financial expenses of Local 7 in the past three years and never raised any questions or objections to these charges. Ironically, now that they ran on the other slate – there are false allegations as to how and why funds were spent.

    Department of Labor Investigation

    The same individuals who ran in the union election made the same false allegations to the International Union and the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL sent federal investigators to investigate these allegations. The United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) completed a cap audit of United Food & Commercial Workers Local (UFCW) Local 7.  They occupied offices in the Union hall for several months. They reviewed financial records dated back to 2006.

    The audit concluded on June 29, 2009, and the final results of that audit will be released by the DOL when it deems it appropriate. However, we had our exit interview with the federal government on June 29, 2009. The DOL found:  no money was missing; all Union expenditures were properly accounted for; contrary to the false statements, union funds were not used for personal use; and nobody on staff, stole any money from the Union. Had the DOL found such conduct, criminal charges would have been brought and rightly so.

    In the July 29 exit interview, the audit noted minor technical violations for not filing a copy of the current union bylaws with OLMS and making minor errors on the LM-2 report. UFCW Local 7 will update our procedures to comply both with the OLMS requirements and has already submitted the revised LM-2 and current bylaws.

    The OLMS made a number of suggestions that UFCW Local 7 will implement in order to improve the quality of record keeping and to make a future audit even easier. These include education of staff about record keeping requirements and changing the current method of inventory of materials.

    Termination of Kim Cordova, Irene Goodell and Kevin Schneider

    Unless former employees sign a release to allow Local 7 to release their records, there is no way for the media to independently verify what they tell them.  Local 7 asked Kim Cordova to sign a release to communicate to the membership why she was terminated. She refused to do so. Local 7 made the same offer to Irene Goodell and Kevin Schneider, through John Ferrugia, the Channel 7 reporter. Until they release such information, Local 7 cannot release confidential personnel information without the employee’s permission. Needless to say, the reasons for the terminations alleged in the interview were false.

    Every member of Local 7 staff is protected under a union contract. As such, there must be “just cause” to discipline or terminate employees. Employees who feel that they are wrongfully terminated have the right to go through the grievance procedure which is decided by an independent arbitrator.

    < /div>

    Kim Cordova asked for $350,000 of membership money to not run for President and to settle her wrongful termination suit.

    At a monthly membership money, Kim Cordova asked for $350,000 to not run for President and to settle her wrongful termination suit. Needless to say, Local 7 leadership was not interested in preventing Kim Cordova from running for President for $350,000 of union dues. Channel 7 did not report this information.

    Further, Kim Cordova used union funds for legitimate business meetings – where she purchased Starbucks coffee. Ironically, Channel 7 attacked the use of union funds for Starbucks coffee when Ernie Duran III did this.

    Truth about my salary  & nepotism

    We informed John Ferrugia his salary figures were incorrect for me for 2008 and 2009. Our accountant reviewed the issue and I was paid $71,510.54 in 2008. This year, I gave up almost 1/3 of my salary to dedicate to the workers’ struggle in negotiations, since the Safeway Meat Warehouse voted to strike back in May.

    John Ferrugia did not report that the woman who sought the Secretary-Treasurer position on the other slate has her son working at Local 7 as a Union Representative upon her request. Further, there are three pairs of family members on Kim Cordova’s slate that ran for Executive Board.

    John Ferrugia also did not report that President Duran’s daughter, Caroll, and Son-In-Law, were temporary help to do clerical work and help with the demands of negotiations. Caroll is a schoolteacher. In 2008, she made a whopping total of $145.70 and 2009, she made $3,190.53. In 2008, Alan made $80.00, and in 2009 his grand total was $2,869.29. Numerous rank and file members have also worked in similar positions to help with negotiations.

    Any member is entitled to run for office. They are not, however, entitled to defame the organization.

    • Rubber Soul says:

      The election was not close. Crisanta lost by over twenty per cent and her father also lost by a large margin.  I am surprised that they fail to mention expenses such as for football tickets paid for by the union. The challenge to the election is bogus and will be thrown out quickly

      I happened to catch Crisanta on Channel 9 a few minutes ago.

      Crisanta could at best be described as inarticulate uttering banal cliches with her head down. It is also hard to describe how poorly workers have it while wearing a $1500 designer outfit.  

  7. Retired says:

    While not my former Union I can say that I thought Union Local 7 was long overdue for a cleanup.

  8. Automaticftp says:

    They are going to contest the results of an election that they ran, because they lost in a landslide?  

    ROFLMAO.  

    From what I have read, UFCW 7 deserves FAR better and I hope their new leadership delivers.  

  9. ohwilleke says:

    election results when it is on the verge of a strike?

    While the details may be inside baseball issues that are obscure, the case for letting stand a count made by officials that you yourself were supervising, in the interest of union harmony, is pretty strong.

    If Rubber Soul is anywhere close to right on the vote count (Ernie Duran 57-43; Chrisanta Duran 62-38), this race actually wasn’t close at all.  Likewise, the fact that the race came out the same way for 22 separate contested races pretty much rules out any sort of isolated problem in part of the election, which means that one needs a huge conspiracy for the election results to have come out as they did, when a majority really meant to vote the other way.

    Low voter turnout usually isn’t a basis for overturning an election so long as proper notice is given by the Secretary (who is in no position to allege impropriety in this regard) and a quorum, if any, was reached in the vote.  A 13% turnout is about what you get when you have a typical off year municipal election.

    If “somebody said something that wasn’t true in the campaign” was grounds for overturning an election, no organization or government, large or small, would ever have a valid election.  If you don’t like the results, you can run again next time.

  10. Strangely enough, only 2900 people out of 25,000 vote and all of a sudden we are calling this a “blow out”? Thousands of reports of members not receiving ballots? Allegations of members being offered money in exchange for their ballots? Stolen union documents that were then used in very misleading ways?

    The People who are the Union do not want a president who

    a) asked for $350,000 in exchange for not running

    b) ran a campaign based on pure lies and slander

    c) went on TV to defame the union during MAJOR contract negotiations, and then ruined the member’s credibility with the public.

    d)ran the dirtiest campaign in UFCW history while the Duran’s took the high-road

    e) put her own selfishness and political vendetta before the needs of the membership

    Kim Cordova is UFCW’s new brain surgeon.  We can’t afford any “oops” moments.

    She had better fill Duran’s shoes or 25,000 families and their lives are ruined.

    Good “blow out”  

    • Fidel's dirt nap says:

      or is it all innuendo ?

      So far it looks like the only things that CAN BE PROVEN are very detrimental to the Durans, ie that they lost the election and they were running a nepotist operation.

    • Rubber Soul says:

      Ernie Duran ran for President.

      He lost by a large margin

      Crisanta Duran ran for Secretary Treasurer and lost by an even bigger margin

      Oh, the other side was mean.

      Yes they were. But, Crisanta wore a beautiful $1500 designer outfit on TV tonight.

      The candy store is now closed.Get a job and get some lawyers to help you defend yourselves. Those Broncos tickets you bought with union funds were great and you had a good time. Now you have some explaining to do,  

  11. Barron X says:

    .

    It looks to me like they’re getting punked or pwned or whatever in negotiations.

    Makes me think its time for a change in management.  

    …………

    True or not, everybody thinks they “know” that the Duran family has improperly enriched themselves at the expense of the rank and file.  

    That rumor has been out there for years.  They should have confronted the allegations head-on, instead of letting them fester.  

    My guess, it was the combination of these two, plus not taking the election seriously, that led to this outcome.

    .

  12. To Mr.Ferrugia,

    I found your piece on the Duran family and local 7 very disturbing. It appears to be have

    been filled with innuendo and unsubstantiated claims. The timing of the biased report

    appeared geared to influence the union election, and not truly get at the truth behind your

    allegations. I’m sure that the Department of Labor would not have shared documents on an ongoing investigation.

    Crisanta Duran worked as a co-director of the Udall campaign and certainly has the political ties to work in Washington DC at a much greater salary than your article admits that she did not make. What did she make? She’s highly qualified and chose to stay in Denver as working for the rights of workers is her passion. .

    The critical time period for the UFCW to vote on the Safeway contract approaches rapidly. I find a report of this type may weaken the Denver area’s confidence or support of the union if the contract is rejected. I cannot help but believe that corporate ownership of your affiliate may influence your choice of investigation and timing of publication of such an investigation

    The questioning of Ernest Duran was not done in a sit down situation in which he could have been prepared to answer your questions. My understanding is that the Durans made an offer on four separate occasions to do just that which your “investigators” refused to attend. As did the Denver post writer. Instead, we are a fed a fly by night ambush of a man that does not have access to his files to answer your questions. If this is the type of reporting that is done at your station, then I must question the motive for running such a poorly documented story based upon unsubstantiated allegations.

    Ernest Duran deserves better. He has fought for working people his entire life.

    Raymond C. Springfield

  13. I suggest that you go organize labor in Latin America. If you you weren’t kidnapped,  or murdred immediately then you would stand a great chance of being tortured.

    His salary, as mentioned, was not confirmed. Nor were the salaries of the other Duran’s.

    What do the CEOs of Kroger and Safeway make?

    Millions in bonuses every year.

    • Barron X says:

      .

      may not see the local Union boss job as comparable to the job of CEO of a multi-billion enterprise.  

      .

      • The union has 17,000 membes. Many NY Stock exchange companies have less.

        In any event, a State Union Boss that organizes internationally that makess less than 200k is not surprising.

        An attorney that makes 133k that represents 17000 is normal pay range and not excessive.

        Channel7 smeared Ernest Duran, and he does not deserve it.

        • Barron X says:

          .

          The number of employees is not so germane.  Compare responsibilities or compare impact.  Mr. Duran created 0 jobs.  CEO’s of companies listed on the NYSE create not just jobs, but industries and markets.  They create wealth.  

          Mr. Duran does not create anything.  

          That attorney doesn’t represent 17,000 clients, she represents Union management.  I’ve carried 2 different cards, and union attorneys wouldn’t give me the time of day.  It was local stewards that provided me with representation when I needed it.  

          Technically, Mr. Duran pays himself about $500K, including what immediate family members get.  That’s how ethics rules tend to read.  Which refutes your statement about whether he deserves to be smeared.  

          Maybe I’m wrong, but I assume you have personal relationships with the Durans.  Maybe they’ve granted you special favors.  It is honorable for you to be loyal to them.  But for the rest of us, cold hard facts will do.

          .

          • compare the salary differential between the USA and Japan between average worker and CEO to that of the USA. Then compare the situation the country hasa gone through the last 12 months.

            Nobody has ever paid me money to go away because I was losing money for a company.

            It’s Republican heaven. This state will be hurt severely by a strike and Safeway and Kroger are done negotiating. You can count on it.

            As to whoever is attacking me by suggesting that I’ve been granted favors for being a freind of Crisanta. It’s flat wrong. She is my friend. She is Sen Udall’s friend, Sec.Salazars friend,and Gov. Deans friend to name a few.  

            I have never met Ernest Duran Jr. I respect his work.I have knowledge  of labor organizers being murdered in Latin America over the last 20 years.

            The Durans have done no special favors for me. I haven’t been paid a dime for any lobbying that I’ve done, ever.

            Maybe I’m not too smart.

            LOL!

            • Barron X says:

              .

              I don’t mean that you benefited from illegal or improper favors; I meant they did something for you that they didn’t have to do, and you are grateful and loyal in return.  

              I was just hazarding a guess at why you are so personally invested in this, and I was wrong, as you have pointed out.  

              Look, people lose elections.  Someone wins and someone loses.  It happens every election, or so I’ve been told.  They get over it and move on.  The Durans will, too.  So should you.

              .

  14. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    http://www.denverpost.com/opin

    The hard-working, dues-paying members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union ousted their apparently self-serving president in a vote this week that gives the union a chance to bring in reforms.

    Ernie Duran Jr. had been the longest-standing president of the union that represents 23,000 members, including grocery-store workers, meatpackers and private health-care workers. But he also has been accused of nepotism due to the fact he has hired his son and daughter to key, high- paid positions at UFCW.

    Ernie Duran III, his son, made more than $134,000 as a member of the executive staff; and Crisanta Duran, his daughter, made $133,00 as counsel to her father. The elder Duran made more than $162,000.

    That kind of brazen nepotism would be unacceptable in most large businesses.

    The Durans also at times took advantage of union dues-payers by eating lavish meals on expense accounts when no business was being discussed, and on other questionable purchases, like Starbucks runs and even car maintenance, according to investigative reports by KMGH- Channel 7 news.

    Goddamnit!! The Durans were not the UFCW! The WORKERS are the UFCW! Please stop defending corrupt nepotists, even if they were always nice to you personally, and let’s get on with defending the people who matter.

    • EMRosa says:

      “That kind of brazen nepotism would be unacceptable in most large businesses.”

      Bwahahahaha! OK, Mr. Haley, whatever you say.

      I don’t think anyone older than 7 could actually believe that.  

  15. Their investigative report on the purchase of the Gilpin Register-Call by the County News was horribly lopsided.

    On the other hand, even a completely disinterested observer could see that nepotism was a problem with the Duran Clan at UFCW Local 7.  It doesn’t matter how hard they fought for the worker – directly hiring two family members was a Bad Idea™.

  16. The purpose of having a union is obviously different than a corporation that makes profit. Union Presidents and their staffs must be able to produce results for the workers that pay their salaries.

    President Duran is one of the lowest paid UFCW Presidents in the entire country for the size of local he represents. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the Department of Labor website.

    Regarding the qualifications and results Local 7 (and the Durans for that matter) have produced in the past several years, see: http://www.visionyoucanbelievein.com. The results speak for themselves.

    • Barron X says:

      .

      That website you provide the link for makes it sound like the current President has negotiated great contracts for union workers,

      but the pages of ColoradoPols for the last 6 months have complained that the workers are stuck with a raw deal while the corporations are getting record profits.  

      .

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