SEIU Manager Sexually Assaulted Staffer Then Was Rehired At Another SEIU Local

SEIU 32BJ found following an investigation that Pedro Malave (pictured here) sexually assaulted an SEIU staffer in Boston. Then, Malave was rehired at two other SEIU locals in California.

Payday Report has learned that SEIU allowed a staffer who had been forced to leave one Boston-area SEIU local following an internal investigation to then be rehired at two other SEIU locals in California.

The new revelations come as four top staffers at SEIU, including SEIU Fight for $15 Director Scott Courtney, were either fired or forced to resign from the union following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. This most recent revelation also reveals loopholes in how international unions monitor the hiring practices of their local unions.

Payday Report has obtained documents that show in the summer of 2014 that 32BJ SEIU Local 615 investigated then-Assistant Director Pedro Malave for a sexual assault against administrative coordinator Daria Alladio. In July 2014, Malave was then allowed to leave the local.

Later, Malave was allowed to work with an SEIU-backed organization, Community Labor United in Boston and obtained management positions at two California locals: SEIU United Healthcare Workers West and with SEIU United Service Workers United.

Malave was able to obtain this work despite repeated efforts by Alladio and others in her Boston local to ensure that Malave would have a permanent record placed in his file so that he could never work again for SEIU.

“More than being upset about what happened with Pedro, I was really frustrated with how SEIU handled the situation,” says Alladio.  

Alladio says that the first sexual assault by Malave occurred in approximately 2008 before she was employed at the local.

At the time, she was working in Florida and visiting friends in her native Massachusetts. After a night of drinking, she attempted to help Malave and another staffer get safely home. She was helping the staffer up a flight of stairs when, according to Alladio, Malave stuck his hand up her skirt and put his hand in-between her butt cheeks. She immediately recoiled.

Later, she fled into the Boston Commons and sat there calling friends looking for a place to stay, she says.

“I felt terrified that he was going to have some sort of sexual interaction with me, whether it was going to be raping me or whatever,” says Alladio. “I remember being scared that night and going into Boston Common, which obviously wasn’t a safe situation either, but safer than me staying in the apartment with him.”

Five years later, in February 2013, Alladio moved back to Massachusetts and took a job working as an administrative coordinator at SEIU Local 615 in 2013. She very much enjoyed the work and liked being involved in a social justice organization. While she still felt uncomfortable being around Malave after the 2008 incident, she attempted to steer clear of him and had no incidents.

Then on April 26, 2014, she allowed Malave and another staffer, who were too drunk to drive home, to sleep at her apartment.

In the middle of the night, Allado says that she was awoken by a feeling of something rubbing against her face. She says she awoke to discover Malave rubbing his penis against her cheek.

“It’s not just like he touched his penis to my cheek. He was full on a masturbating against my cheek,” says Alladio.

Alladio yelled at Pedro to get away and fell back asleep. Later in the night, she says she was awakened again by Malave masturbating against her cheek. She screamed for him to get away as she went into a panic and found herself on guard for the rest of the night.

Afterwards, Alladio returned to work , but found the work environment of being around Pedro on a daily basis overwhelming.

“I felt anxious and nauseous most of the time,” says Alladio. “I didn’t want to be there.”

“I didn’t want to see him face-to-face,” says Alladio. “I didn’t want to have him look at me. I just felt disgusted by the situation and the anxiety grew around the fact that it was likely going to happen on a daily basis, considering my job role at the union.”

To deal with the anxiety, Alladio used up her remaining sick days to stay away from work. In May, she put in her two weeks’ notice to quit the job and decided to take a summer job waitressing and bartending on Martha’s Vineyard.

“At that point, I felt like I knew him pretty well and based on his behavior, things that he said, things that he had told me he had done, I just didn’t trust him,” says Alladio.

“I was afraid that he was going to go to my apartment and hurt my dog, to the point that I didn’t want to be in that apartment anymore,” says Alladio. “I left for three months.”

In emails from Malave to Alladio obtained by Payday, Malave appears to apologize for his actions.

“I am not expecting any kind of forgiveness and I know I don’t deserve it,” wrote Malave in an email to Alladio on May 22, 2014.

He then attempted to encourage Alladio to stay at the local and promised to change his behavior and to quit drinking.

“Please reconsider staying at the local,” wrote Malave in the same email. “So many people at the local love you and love the work you do. The potential you have to be a star in this local in this organization is endless.”

At first, Alladio had no plans to report the incident. However, after she spoke to several friends, they encouraged her to go to a local rape crisis center.

“I spoke to several of my friends who said that I couldn’t just let this go when he needed to be held accountable,” said Alladio. ”I spoke with an attorney at the local rape crisis center and it seemed like pursuing it criminally was going to be very time-consuming, very emotionally and financially draining, and I just didn’t feel prepared to go that route.”

However, she says that the encouragement of her friends and female co-workers prompted her to speak up.

In late May 2014, Alladio was called in for her exit interview with the staff director of the local. The local’s staff director asked her why she was leaving and she related the incident to the local’s director.

The local’s staff director then decided, rather than allowing Alladio to quit, he would put her on paid administrative leave until an investigation was complete. Malave was allowed to continue to work at the local while the investigation was ongoing.

After Alladio left on administrative leave, a co-worker who was upset by Malave’s actions wrote him an email asking him to resign from the local.

“An admission and apology are worth absolutely nothing without taking full responsibility for your predatory conduct,” wrote a co-worker in a June 4, 2014, email to Malave. Men who harass and assault women deserve to be held accountable for their bad behavior.”

“Accountability means that, if you make the appalling decision to sexually terrorize your coworker in the middle of the night, you accept that—through your actions alone—you have subsequently created a work environment where your coworker will feel threatened by your presence,” wrote the co-worker. “Accountability means that, as the perpetrator, you should have been the one to leave the Local, not Daria.

In July 2014, the investigation concluded and Malave was allowed to leave the local on terms that remain unclear.

On July 15th, Alladio was informed that she would be rehired at the local and allowed to return to her staff position as an administrative coordinator. However, not until July 25 did Malave leave the local.

The ten-day period between the conclusion of the investigation and Malave leaving the local raised questions in Alladio’s mind about whether or not Malave was fired or allowed to voluntarily leave. Immediately afterward, Alladio attempted to follow up to make sure that a permanent record was placed in Malave’s HR file so that Malave could not be hired at another SEIU local again.

Under SEIU’s internal policies, she felt that she had the right to know whether or not Malave would be allowed to be rehired at SEIU.

According to 32BJ Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedure states under Complaint and Investigation, Procedure, 8:

“If the investigation establishes that discrimination or harassment has occurred, the Local will take prompt and appropriate action. This may include corrective action designed to end and to remedy the discrimination or harassment and to prevent it from recurring. … The Local will inform both the complainant and the accused of the measures taken to correct the discrimination or harassment.”

However, Alladio says she was never informed what actions were taken by the local on whether or not Malave was fired or terminated and how this was reflected on his permanent record within SEIU. 

Worse, in a phone call shortly following the decision of 32BJ SEIU to rehire Alladio, 32BJ SEIU Chief of Staff Laura Caruso instructed Alladio not to speak to her fellow coworkers about the investigation.

In an email to Caruso on July 18, 2014, Alladio pressed the local to find out if Malave would be fired from the local or voluntarily separated.

“I feel that as a social justice institution, SEIU is responsible for fighting against all types of discrimination, harassment, and abuse—not just exploitation of low-wage workers and institutionalized racism,” wrote Alladio in the email. “I cannot in good faith work for an organization that is aware of a sexual assault occurring between two employees and chooses to look the other way. I feel that I need to know what measures were taken by SEIU in this case.”

On July 23rd, Caruso wrote back to Alladio and stated that “Following the investigation, Mr. Malave’s employment has ended at 32BJ and he will not be returning in the future.  Far from looking the other way, we have taken decisive and complete corrective action.”

Not satisfied with Caruso’s answer, Alladio wrote back to Caruso later on July 23rd: “I am clear on the fact that Pedro’s employment has ended and that he will not be returning in the future. However, as I stated before, I am unclear if this departure was on his own accord. I would like to know what measures SEIU took in my case. I translated the 32BJ Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedure as stating that I would be informed of this.”

Caruso responded on July 26th that Malave would not be employed by the union again, writing that, “Following her investigation, we concluded that what you had described about the incident was accurate and that Pedro Malave could no longer be an employee of the union. We advised Pedro of that determination and he accepted the union’s decision. The termination of his employment and the decision that he is not to be rehired is the corrective action taken here, coupled with our communication to you that you should consider returning to your job at 32BJ.”

Alladio decided to return to work, but on July 28th wrote that she was still not satisfied with the union’s remarks, writing in an email, “Based on your language, I want to be honest and state that I am still unclear as to whether Pedro was fired or resigned. It does not appear that I will be informed of this.”

However, with Malave being removed from the local, she said that she felt comfortable returning to work.  

In September 2014, Alladio returned to work and immediately discovered that the atmosphere in the local on her return was tense. At the time she got her job back, there was talk around the local about the potential for layoffs. 

“I felt alone and when I went back to work, I was still really frustrated at how HR had been responding or not responding to my questions,” says Alladio. “I kinda didn’t feel like I was part of the team at work. I didn’t feel like I was like getting the answers that I deserved from HR.”

She continued to raise questions about whether or not Pedro was fired or resigned and what type of letter had been placed in his permanent file.

“I felt like they weren’t honest,” says Alladio. “I felt like in this situation that the least I deserved to know the truth.”

Worse, she found herself frustrated as a sexual harassment training that the local had promised would be performed in September for the entire staff was canceled and delayed until early in the winter of 2015. Alladio felt that if the training had been done when she was hired that she would have felt more comfortable about coming forward to report Malave’s sexual assault.

Then, in November 2014, Malave appeared at a rally organized by 32BJ SEIU New England Division 615. Malave was not only at the rally but insisted on leading chants. 

After the rally, Alladio discovered that Malave was working as an organizer for Community Labor United, an SEIU-financed, Boston-based non-profit aimed at organizing community workers.

Throughout the fall and winter of 2014, Alladio attempted to press the local on what happened but never received any concrete answer. Alladio eventually left the union for various reasons and took a job at another employer.

SEIU 32BJ Chief of Staff Caruso did not respond to a request for comment about what actions were taken to ensure that Malave would not be employed by the union again.

Later in 2015, Alladio would discover that Malave would go on to get a job with SEIU again as an organizer with SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) in California. Since then, Malave has moved on to work as a regional field coordinator for a separate SEIU local, SEIU United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW).

In Malave’s current role, he is employed as an organizer working with primarily undocumented, largely female janitorial workers, a position that Alladio does not believe Malave should have.

“My fear is that he has continued his predator behavior,” says Alladio. “It doesn’t seem like he is going to stop, so my fear is that he is working with undocumented women, women who cannot speak English, women who are not going to come forward out of fear, and they are basically his ideal prey.”

Neither SEIU-USWW or SEIU-UHW returned Payday’s requests for comment.

When asked what steps the international union was taking to make sure that organizers accused of sexual assault in one local were not employed by another local, SEIU spokesperson Sahar Wali said that the international union does not control what staff the local union hires.

“You need to contact the local unions you reference in your email,” wrote Wali. “The [International Union] doesn’t hire staff for local unions.”

However, the statement by Wali that SEIU does not have control over the hiring of locals has raised questions. According to SEIU’s Code of Ethics, “No person shall serve as an officer or managerial employee of SEIU or any Affiliate who has been convicted of any felony involving the infliction of grievous bodily injury, or the abuse or misuse of such person’s position or employment in a labor organization to seek or obtain illegal gain at the expense of the members, except for the limited exceptions set forth in applicable federal law.”

According to SEIU’s own guidelines, the international has the power to prohibit the hiring of certain individuals for certain offenses, but sexual harassment or abuse is not included in those situations. This would require a change to the Code of Ethics that women within the union would like to see.

The rehiring of Malave by the two locals raises questions about what steps SEIU must take to ensure that those who commit sexual assault are not rehired again. SEIU has appointed a task force consisting of Cecilia Muñoz, former White House domestic policy council director; Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center; and employment attorney Debra Katz, founding partner of law firm Katz Marshall & Banks, to look into what practices SEIU can enact to stop sexual abuse within its union.

Alladio says that she would like to see changes made at SEIU so that abusers, who get into trouble in one local, are not rehired in another local.

“I think what is most important is for them to create some way for the locals to communicate with each other so that there is some accountability for when these types of situations arise and when something happens at one local and a person tries to get a job another. They may not be the same organization, but they are under the same umbrella that this information is shared.”

Alladio is part of an effort of past and present organizers at SEIU who are launching a campaign to pressure SEIU to take more concrete steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault. The organizers have launched an email address [email protected] and encourage women to contact them confidentially to share their stories and organize against sexual harassment and assault.

Ultimately, Alladio says that she wanted to come forward and tell her story so that other women abused within SEIU would feel comfortable coming forward to tell their stories.

“Women have to be comfortable sharing their stories with others so more women do, so we can bring it to HR and management’s attention, so they can put an end to it” says Alladio.

If you were sexually assaulted in a union and would like to tell your story, please contact us confidentally at [email protected] or call (412) 613-8423. There is no place in the labor movement for sexual assault or harassment. 

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]

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