Labor Activist Files Racketeering Suit Against Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF)

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Labor Activist Files Racketeering Suit Against Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF)

On September 17th, Dr. Keith Appleby, a prominent labor activist in Lane County, Oregon , filed a civil suit (Case No. 16-1219110) against the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), AFT Local 3544, for racketeering under Oregon’s civil RICO statute. The 12 page indictment was filed in Lane County Circuit Court. The lawsuit individually names as defendants Judith Lechner, President of the GTFF, Jeremy Strickler, past president of the GTFF, Steven McCallister, Treasurer of the GTFF, Dave Cecil, a staff member of the GTFF and United Academics, in addition to labor attorney Michael Tedesco.

The suit alleges that Dr. Appleby was targeted by various threats, including threats of physical violence, from other union members during Dr. Appleby’s time in the union. Dr. Appleby stated, “Whenever a labor activist, like myself and the rest of our labor union, is forced to litigate against the union bosses, they do so with a heavy heart. However, whenever we have a leadership that is this out of touch with our rank and file members, litigation is an absolutely necessary step. Words like, ‘solidarity’, ‘brotherhood’, and ‘sisterhood’, are something that the union bosses simply pay lip service to. But, for me, these aren’t just words…. These are values that really mean something to me…and they are values that myself, and my brothers and sisters in our union, actually live by.”

Dr. Appleby continued, “Our rank and file members deserve to have a Union that is free of homophobia, sexism, racism, gender-based harassment, and threats of physical violence. I’m happy to continue to advocate for those values on behalf of our rank and file members. Our members need to know that they can be assured that we will always have a safe and healthy work environment. This lawsuit isn’t about being anti-union…on the contrary: This lawsuit is about defending the rights of workers and union democracy from the attacks of the union bosses.”

Dr. Keith Appleby is a long-time labor activist, previously serving as an Executive Board member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, AFT Local 3544 as well as having served on the Executive Board of the AFL-CIO’s Lane County Central Labor Council.

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