As reported in this story by The Bee's Chelsea Phua, SEIU Local 1000 District Labor Council 784 President Jaime E. Feliciano, 49, was arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography and violating his probation as a sex offender.
Phua reports, "According to court records, Feliciano was convicted in 1993 of lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 14 years, which is a felony."
In an e-mail to the State Worker this morning, Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said, "I am personally disgusted and appalled. I am filing charges to remove him from office and from membership in Local 1000."
Feliciano is a research program specialist at the state insurance department.
So how does a convicted child molester become a union leader? We asked SEIU spokesman Jim Zamora late last night. His e-mail reply, sent at 1 a.m. this morning:
We are all shocked and disgusted by these charges. No one in SEIU leadership knew that he was a convicted sex offender prior to the media reports of his arrest.
(Feliciano) was elected by his fellow workers at Department of Insurance in Sacramento and some folks in other nearby agencies. (I'm not sure which departments at this time) He represents approximately 1,000 to 1,500 workers. It's an unpaid position, with no desk, no physical office etc. He keeps his day job. It's an election among peers. To be eligible he needs to be a state employee working in the geographic area represented by that DLC (District Labor Council) and a member of SEIU Local 1000. He does NOT have to be longtime SEIU member or veteran activist to run for office. There is no background check or criminal records search of candidates internal union elections.
Obviously this case raises the issue that perhaps more vetting should be done in the future. That is something that would be reviewed by Local 1000 attorneys, our president and other senior leaders. But at this time, everyone is waiting to learn more about the criminal investigation.
He was first elected in late May and was sworn into office in mid-July. The only major meetings he attended as an elected official were on the July weekend he was sworn in. (Local 1000's main council meets 4 times a year) Prior to his election in June, I'm not sure how active he was in Local 1000 or how well known he was to workers outside of his colleagues at the Department of Insurance. His elected position did not put him in contact with children or teenagers.