Wednesday, January 24, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Union's ex-leader sues to halt Verizon vote

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

The former head of the union that represents about 2,000 workers at Verizon Hawaii Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday seeking to have his name added to the ballot for the election of new officers set to begin on Friday.

George Waialeale claims in the lawsuit, filed on his behalf by attorneys William McCorriston and Kenneth Mansfield, that Local 1357 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the union’s international headquarters are improperly keeping his name off the mail-out ballot.

Waialeale, who is seeking the local’s top position of business manager and financial secretary, headed the local until he was defeated by Harold Dias Jr. in 1998 by a vote of 654 to 620.

In September 1998, the local charged that Waialeale, while in office, spent more than $80,000 of union money without proper documentation. In March 1999, the union’s international office upheld the charges against him.

In the lawsuit filed yesterday, Waialeale claimed he was not given sufficient time to hire a lawyer before the international union ruled against him. The suit also contends that the local and the union’s headquarters never provided him with specifics about what sections of the IBEW constitution and bylaws he was accused of violating. Also, the union misplaced his appeal of the decision against him, the suit said.

Waialeale said in the lawsuit that if his name is not added to the ballot, Dias will be the lone candidate for the union’s top spot. He is asking the court to prevent mailing out the ballots unless his name is included.

Dias, however, said he believes the issue is moot.

"The entire matter has already been handled by our international office in Washington, D.C., and our 9th District office in California," Dias said.

Those offices concluded that Waialeale is not a union member in good standing because he has not repaid the $80,000. They also said he cannot run for elective office for five years because of the March 1999 finding.

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