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Las Vegas union knowingly hired a leader who sabotaged his former union

May 11, 2013 by

LAS VEGAS – As the old saying goes, you are judged by the company you keep.

The Clark County Education Association, a union representing teachers in Las Vegas, hired John Vellardita as its executive director in 2011.

That fact says a great deal about that union.

In Oakland, Vellardita had been a top official of the long-term care division of United Healthcare Workers-West, a chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

But news started trickling out that the SEIU was going to take the local union into trusteeship and likely replace its leaders, including Vellardita, partly because of financial improprieties.

Vellardita and his cronies wouldn’t stand for that. They reportedly launched a scheme to sabotage their local union and use its remaining resources to start another union before the SEIU put them out of business.


The SEIU caught on to the scheme and filed a lawsuit. In 2010 a federal appeals court ordered Vellardita and other leaders of his former union to pay the national union $1.5 million in damages, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Vellardita and the other defendants reportedly conspired to destroy union files and property, violate union bylaws and breach their fiduciary responsibilities, according to the news report.

As federal Judge Richard Tallman put it, the group had “one mission: to discard the charred remains of a weakened union while simultaneously starting a competing local union.”

One would think that sort of reputation would prevent Vellardita from finding another job in the union world.

But that wasn’t the case.

As it turns out, Clark County Education Association President Ruben Murillo was aware of the allegations against Vellardita when he hired him as executive director in 2011. The fact that Vellardita had had been held legally responsible for trashing his former union did not make a difference to Murillo.

He hired him anyway, for his “vast experience in negotiations,” according to the news report.

Some people like to say that organized labor is dominated by criminals and thugs. Where in the world would they get such an idea?

To read more installments of “The Other Labor History: What Kids Won’t Learn,” click here.

Las Vegas union knowingly hired a leader who sabotaged his former union – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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