By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
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By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"The last, best and final is a good offer. For people not wanting to accept it, fine, you people go on strike and we're going to do our jobs," she adds.
A longtime checker on a recent smoke break at the King Soopers at Ninth Avenue and Corona Street says she feels the union has grown weaker over the last decade. Part of what's diluted it has been a series of watered-down contracts, says the checker, who didn't want to give her name, either.
She says she voted for Cordova because she wanted a change.
The Durans aren't going away quietly.
The family has challenged the election results with the UFCW International, which has rules governing local elections but which also allows each local to conduct elections how it sees fit. Evan Yeats, a spokesman for the international, wouldn't discuss the vote, saying only: "To preserve the integrity of an ongoing investigation, we can't comment any further or talk about the details of a specific case."
Crisanta Duran says she doesn't expect the international to have made a decision by January 1, when Cordova and her officers are scheduled to take over. If that's the case, her father has said he'll step down as president and retire.
But the Durans won't drop their appeal. If the election isn't overturned, Crisanta says they'll appeal the results to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Some of the Durans' complaints include low voter turnout — only 13 percent of the members voted, they say — and a close outcome; the union never released an exact vote count, but www.VoteErnieOut.com had the race for president at 1,580-1,268.
They also tried painting the "Time for Change" folks as criminals, writing that "there are allegations that several members of the TFC slate have been prosecuted and received penalties for violations of Colorado law."
There's more, too. "It doesn't appear to be a coincidence that prior to the election, union offices were broken into and documents were stolen," they wrote in their UFCW appeal. Indeed, police reports show that two laptops were stolen from the union's Greeley office in May and that someone slashed the tires on Crisanta Duran's Ford Escape in mid-October.
The election challenge also lists the anonymous website, the flier, the Channel 7 report and the fact that by their count, 2,000 Local 7 members never even received ballots – and if they did, they were only printed in English and Spanish, which many meatpacking employees don't speak.
The Durans are also disputing the allegations of nepotism and misspent funds.
"The people on the incoming slate lied to members and the media as to how and why union funds were being spent," Crisanta says. "There were allegations we stole money and were using union funds for personal use and gallivanting on the union dime.
"All of that is just a lie. If any of those accusations were true...we'd have criminal charges against us."
The $216 Red Lobster dinner, at which four diners ordered a total of seven $6.99 margaritas, was attended by E3 and three other organizers from the anti-Amendment 47 campaign. It took place a week before the November 2008 election — when they were working sixty- to eighty-hour weeks, E3 says. "We blew off a little bit of steam and talked about strategy for the upcoming week. It's not something we did all the time."
The $192 Cuba Cuba dinner included E3, Crisanta, and a reporter for the Spanish-language television station Azteca America (which is affiliated with Channel 7) and her boyfriend. The goal was to discuss media strategy for the anti-Amendment 47 campaign and to thank the reporter for suggesting a pro-union report at work, E3 says.
"If someone gets you thousands of dollars in free media, you should be able to take them out to dinner," E3 says. Cordova and her slate, he says, "made it sound like I was taking my friends to dinner. It wasn't my friends."
As for the $211 Broncos tickets, the Durans say the union gave them to Rick Bettcher, who owns a business called A+ Lighting in Thornton. Bettcher owned a billboard close to the American Furniture Warehouse in Thornton, whose owner, Jake Jabs, was pro-47 — and very vocal about it. Bettcher allowed the Durans to post an anti-47 ad on his billboard — a sort of jab at Jabs, and a prime location to trumpet their cause.
"That's how organizing happens. You go out and talk. You go out and spend money. This was the fight of our life," Kania says, referring to the anti-Amendment 47 campaign. "We're not going to worry about $200. [Cordova] took the normal business of the local union and turned it around and made it look bad."
E3 admits that he was late in turning in his 2008 receipts, but Kania says the union cut him some slack because he was working so hard. He eventually turned the receipts in, the Durans say, and they were approved by the executive board.
And Disneyland? Crisanta says it was for a union-related conference; she also insists that the Puerto Rican vacation was accidentally charged to her father's union card. When he noticed it, he paid the union back, she says.