Leaders of the propmakers union, which operates as IATSE Local 44, have suspended business agent Ronnie Cunningham for alleged embezzlement of union funds and other violations.
Following a detailed presentation of the seven charges, Cunningham was ousted in a unanimous 16-0 vote at an exec board meeting Wednesday and suspended without pay. He proclaimed his innocence at the meeting and wasn’t available for comment Thursday.
The allegations in the local’s affidavit charges include:
? Demanding cash payments from call board employees and those seeking employment on the local’s call board.
? Selling call board employment for $1,000 in 2004.
? Preferring at least 20 nonmembers for employment over Local 44 members.
? Misappropriation of union funds by requiring union employees to perform personal services for Cunningham such as auto repair, painting, pool repair, plumbing and courier services.
? Receiving overtime pay without authorization and reporting hours to the pension and health plans in excess of the allowable limit.
? Blacklisting two Local 44 members.
? Receiving a $200 gratuity during the 2004 campaign for business agent.
Allegations cover alleged misconduct as far back as 1996. The affidavit also said, “These charges are not made out of malice or with levity but in good faith that the laws of this Alliance must be upheld.”
The local, which reps about 5,600 members of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, issued a brief statement Thursday saying that it would have no further comment.
“These are only charges and the guilt or innocence of the matter will be borne out at a future trial,” it said. “This matter cannot be discussed by members of this board or the staff of Local 44.”
Cunningham won a close election for business agent in 2004 with 53% of the votes to beat out J. Kevin Pike for the post, the key elected office at the union. The local covers prop masters, propmakers, set decorators, construction coordinators and employees working on greens and miniatures.