Union leaders face charges after talking to Free Press

Strife continues at Michigan's oldest state employee union. Union charges have been brought against three Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA) leaders for speaking out against President Ken Moore, who is accused of wasting union funds trying to destroy an internal union that represents central office staff in Lansing. Brent Heyer, Michael Walker and Mark Sanchez Jr. are charged with a variety of alleged offenses under the MSEA constitution in connection with comments they made after the Free Press contacted them for a Nov. 10 article about a war raging within the union. They face possible suspensions, or even expulsion from the union. A central issue in the dispute is Moore's decision — later ratified by the board of the union in a divided vote — to appeal to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals an August National Labor Relations Board ruling that said Moore and the MSEA broke federal labor laws in actions they took against their own employees, including illegal firings and discipline and refusals to turn over information. Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University and director of Labor@Wayne, said the MSEA dispute is "aberrational in a union setting." It's not unusual, Master said, for unions to form inside a union to represent union employees, and for disputes to arise stemming from that employer-employee relationship. However, "this sort of level of tension and outward display of disagreement and vitriol is highly unusual."

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