By  on October 21, 2009

Retired members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union entered the legal scrum between UNITE HERE and Workers United when they accused the breakaway group’s president, Bruce Raynor, of mismanaging their pension plans in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The retirees are seeking an injunction that would give control of the plans to UNITE HERE. Computer records of the suit were not immediately available, but an attorney for the group provided a copy of the complaint to WWD and said they filed their action in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The plaintiffs include Jean Dubinsky Appleton, widow of former ILGWU secretary treasurer Shelley Appleton and daughter of its former president, David Dubinsky. In 2003, a similar group filed a separate suit against Raynor over benefits. The ILGWU in 1995 became part of the union that merged with another group to form UNITE HERE in 2004. Raynor was named president of a breakaway group, Workers United, earlier this year. The two sides have clashed over once-shared assets, including Amalgamated Bank, in a series of lawsuits.

The new complaint accuses Raynor and secretary-treasurer Edgar Romney of not performing proper due diligence when they steered money from two funds to Amalgamated Bank and ALICO Services Corp., another union-owned entity. Millions of dollars, the suit alleges, were committed to “overpriced index funds” and a “risky high-yield real estate junk bond fund” at Amalgamated.

The retirees’ attorneys wrote that Raynor and Romney “…have created a de facto single entity — consisting of Workers United, the Amalgamated Bank and [ALICO], and the defendants’ plans — all of which share the same business goal: maximizing profit for the Amalgamated Bank and [ALICO].”

In an e-mail, Eric Sharfstein, assistant director of communications for Workers United, said it hadn’t seen the suit, but contended the charges appear to be baseless.

In addition to the injunction, the ILGWU retirees are seeking losses from breach of fiduciary duty, legal fees and other, unspecified damages.

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