Responding to Attacks on Payday’s Investigations into Sexual Misconduct in the Labor Movement

SEIU Local 721 represents primarily low-wage workers, but has been rocked by sexual misconduct scandals in the union's leadership.

Recently the group AF3IRM, a well-connected transnational feminist organization, which focuses on combating sex trafficking,. has been debating the inclusion in their events of long-time SEIU Local 721 leader Martin Manteca, who has been accused of sexual misconduct within the union.

Manteca’s partner, Connie Huynh, is AF3IRM’s national chairperson and employed as a staffer at the SEIU-backed Majority Action. For nearly a decade, Huyhn worked as a subordinate within SEIU Local 721 to Manteca, who was approximately two-decades older than her and served as her superior as SEIU Local 721 ‘s powerful Organizing Director for many years.

Over 50 Members of AF3IRM have objected to Hyuhn including Manteca in the feminist groups’ events, citing Payday Report’s 2019 investigation into Mr. Manteca. 

The group’s leadership dismissed Payday’s well-documented investigation, saying, “Allegations, even lawsuits, are standard against unionists brought by management and by those who view unions as their personal milking cow. We note that the journalistic integrity of the article’s author has already been called into question by national news outlets”.

Rather than investigate Manteca’s long and well-known record of sexual misconduct, which was verified in a petition signed by 60 of Manteca’s former subordinatesAF3IRM has taken to attacking the credibility of my publication Payday Report, an Emmy-nominated labor publication, that has received wide acclaim for our investigation into sexual misconduct in the labor movement.

Indeed, Payday Report’s investigations into sexual misconduct in the labor movement have been cited and praised by the New York Times

Often, when alleged sexual predators and their enablers have attempted to dismiss Payday Report’s investigations, they have focused on the relatively small size of our publication to dismiss the common journalism practice of using anonymous sources to protect survivors from retaliation as AF3IRM did in referring to Payday Report as a mere “blog.”

Although, a 2020 investigation by the New York Times into Payday Report’s use of anonymous sources in covering a major cover-up of sexual misconduct within the labor movement independently verified that our reporting was accurate. 

However, our story on Manteca didn’t just use anonymous sources but cited a 2016 petition signed by 60 former subordinates, which called for Manteca’s ouster over his misconduct. The names on the petition calling for Mr. Manteca’s include some of the most-respected union organizers in Southern California. 

(Recently, Payday Report underwent a data migration, and a link to this petition was damaged in this data migration. The fixed link to the petition signed by 60 of Manteca’s former subordinates can be found here). 

AFI3RM focused heavily on the fact that our 2019 expose cited 18 statements given against Mr. Manteca as part of an effort to get SEIU to launch an inquiry into Manteca’s misconduct. The depositions, while not provided publicly for legal and confidentiality reasons, were thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by Payday Report before publishing our 2019 expose into Manteca’s well-documented misconduct. 

While we could not release the 18 statements for legal and confidentiality reasons, Payday Report clearly listed my email and stated in the body of our 2019 expose into Manteca that we were willing to put interested parties in touch confidentially with Manteca’s accusers. 

However, at no point did AF3IRM attempt to contact Payday Report so that we could facilitate a confidential conversation with the previous accusers of Mr. Manteca, who have stated they would be more than willing to provide information on Manteca. 

Nor did AF3IRM attempt to inform Payday Report that a link to a petition signed by 60 of Manteca’s former subordinates had been broken during the data migration.

Since this petition was signed by some of the most well-respected union organizers in southern California, it’s truly shocking that AF3IRM’s leadership would not exercise this basic due diligence and seek to contact any of these 60 union organizers who signed this petition. Given that Huynh worked alongside many of the signers of this petition when she was employed at SEIU Local 721 for nearly a decade, it would have been relatively easy for her to contact the alleged parties to investigate the claims.

Instead, AFI3RM circled the wagons and attacked a publication whose coverage of sexual misconduct in the labor movement has been praised and cited by the New York Times.

Payday Report is more than willing to assist members in conducting a complete and thorough investigation into the well-known and well-documented allegations of misconduct against Mr. Manteca. 

Any interested parties can contact me at my email address, [email protected]. We will gladly grant confidentiality to anyone, who wishes to speak with us. 

Donate to Help Us Continue to Expose Sexual Misconduct in the Labor Movement

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

Be the first to comment on "Responding to Attacks on Payday’s Investigations into Sexual Misconduct in the Labor Movement"

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.