The president of Local 372 — which represents some of the lowest-paid city staffers — has drained the group’s coffers on salary hikes, unnecessary decorating and a $10 million Manhattan office space, two members allege in a new lawsuit.
Union members Paul Brathwaite, who is running for president, and Anthony Gordon, who is running for executive vice president, leveled the explosive charges against current president Shaun Francois in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court and aimed at shedding more light on the organization’s books.
Local 372 represents about 23,000 Department of Education employees who do not work as teachers or in security positions, the filing states.
The pair allege that Francois’ “profligate spending” has led to a $10 million decline in the group’s liquid assets over five years, the suit says.
In 2019, the union bought an office space for $9,289,821 at 20 West 33rd Street, taking out a mortgage of $5 million.
“[The union] is now stuck with an office condominium in the midst of a commercial real estate crash,” the suit states.
The suit alleges money was squandered on redecorating the union’s office — and that Francois named one of the refurbished rooms “The Charles Hughes Executive Conference Room” in homage to the longtime former president, who was convicted in 1999 of embezzling $2 million. The suit doesn’t specify the office’s location.
The filing also blasts Francois for his growing salary. In 2014, he earned $175,000, and by 2018, the latest year for which information is available, he raked in $221,579, according to the suit. He received an additional stipend of $21,000 for expenses.
The suit also names union treasurer David Keye and others, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and imprudent spending.
They’re asking a judge to force the leaders to release the union’s financial information prior to the upcoming election in October.
They allege that Francois and Keye keep the union’s finances a closely guarded secret, refusing to give the board or members access to the books — in violation of Local 372’s Constitution.
Francois and Keye didn’t immediately return a request for comment.