Labor Leaders Out To Topple Dc33's Stout

Posted: February 16, 1988

A coalition of labor leaders announced today that it will try to unseat Earl Stout, longtime president of District Council 33, which represents all the city's blue-collar employees.

James Sutton, head of the sanitation workers union, Local 427 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said at a press conference this morning that it was the aim of the group, the Committee for Union Democracy, "to take back control of our union."

"Enough's enough," said Sutton, who is heading a slate of three candidates to oppose the Stout team in the May 10 union election. "It is our union. We want it cleaned up and restored to good health."

Sutton's slate is considered by union members and observers to be the strongest challenge to Stout in the 14 years he has been president of District Council 33. Sutton's insurgents include the leaders of nine of the 14 unions in District Council 33.

Stout could not be reached for comment today.

The union election is May 10 and will mark the second time in eight years that Stout has been challenged. The last time occurred in 1984 when two other candidates, Ronald "Reds" Mauldin and Burhman Smith, ran for president. Stout won overwhelmingly.

However, in the four years since, Stout's popularity among the union's 13,000 members has suffered in the face of continued problems with the administration of health and welfare benifits and an unsuccessful strike during the summer of 1986.

Stout also was criticized twice last year by a panel of representatives

from the ASFCME international union in Washington, once for attempting to strengthen his control of the district council through administrative moves and another for attempting to get a candidate elected to the city's pension board after the council's executive board ordered him to support someone else.

Calling Stout "unaccountable" to the membership, Sutton said Stout was leading the council "down the road to ruin. Before the committee, there was no way to hold Stout accountable. He and his cronies ran and run the union for their own ends. Not for the membership's.

"He ignores the union's constitution," Sutton said. "He still makes unilateral and personal decisions that inflict pain and suffering on our members. He won't account for union funds. The list goes on and on," he said.

Sutton said that under Stout union members have suffered "unexplained cuts" in the union health and welfare programs that have resulted in unpaid medical bills and discontinuation of service at most area hospitals.

According to Sutton, Stout ignores all requests from the union membership for information on the health benefits. The committee also cited a concern that the union cannot negotiate with the city because of "Stout's personal vendetta with city leaders."

Contracts between the city and its unions with the city expire June 30. The city administration has said that it is seeking work rule concessions from the unions.

Joining Sutton on his slate: for vice president, Mauldin, business agent for Local 1637, which represents civilian employees in the police and fire departments; for secretary-treasurer, Leonard Tilghman, president of Local 403, which represents streets department employees.

Mauldin predicted the insurgent slate would win, adding, "This union cannot afford another four years of Earl Stout if it is to survive."

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