Earlier this week, we reported on serious internal drama within the leadership of the AFL-CIO: the labor coalition’s third-in-command had appealed to the executive council to save him from being suspended for allegedly improperly expensing a strip club receipt. We’re told there will be a meeting on Monday that will discuss his case.
To recap: Tefere Gebre, the AFL-CIO’s executive vice president (the third-highest position) and the only person of color in its leadership, sent a highly unusual email on Tuesday to the group’s executive council, which is made up of 55 elected leaders from the labor organization’s member unions, and which acts as the board of directors. Gebre revealed to the executive council members that AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka had summarily suspended Gebre and ordered a formal investigation over a six month-old receipt for $117 from a Miami strip club that Gebre had submitted for reimbursement. Gebre says he submitted the receipt in error, and pulled it back as soon as he found out, and also says that Trumka has no authority to suspend him from his job atop the labor group. He asked the executive council to intervene and overrule Trumka, and restore him to his job.
Now, sources tell us that executive council members plan to discuss Gebre’s case at a meeting this coming Monday. The outcome of their deliberations will have serious implications for the AFL-CIO’s leadership. They will either side with Trumka, which would cast a shadow on Gebre’s position in the organization; or they will take the step of siding with Gebre, which would effectively be a rebuke of Trumka’s actions. The odd ingredients that now constitute a power struggle in the highest ranks of organized labor hint at more profound disagreements below the surface.
Neither the AFL-CIO nor Gebre have commented publicly thus far.
If you know more about the issues unfolding inside the AFL-CIO, email me.