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Outgoing UFCW Local 7 boss gets a watch Ford truck upon his upcoming retirement

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Parting gifts sure can be nice.

Ernest Duran Jr., the outgoing president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union (whose recent messy election was the subject of this week's feature, "Can a Mild-Mannered Bakery Clerk Solve the Grocery Workers' Labor Strife?"), is scheduled to get one at the end of this month, thanks to a vote taken by the union's executive board in October. And it's no Rolex ripoff or fake-gold-plated grandfather clock. It's a truck.

The motion, according to meeting minutes obtained by Westword, says the gifting of union vehicles to the retiring union boss and his retiring right-hand man, secretary-treasurer Stan Kania, is part of a long tradition.

But it's a move that has raised eyebrows among some members of the incoming executive board. They say it's particularly worrisome given the recent history of spending at Local 7, which includes Duran's son, union director Ernest Duran III, wining and dining political allies and media members with $200 dinners at Red Lobster charged to the union credit card. (The Durans have defended the spending, saying it was approved by the union's audit committee and board.)

Today was the outgoing executive board's last meeting. Duran serves as chairman of that board and when his term is up on Dec. 31, he's slated to keep his 2007 diesel-fueled Ford truck. Kania will drive home his 2006 Ford Five Hundred car, which he says has 59,000 miles on it.

"I told the board that if they wanted to do me a favor, they'd give me a motorcycle," Kania jokingly told Westword last month. "They said no."

But a car ain't a bad consolation prize.

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