Fired carpenters’ union employees claim leadership hid sexual harassment allegations against president for months

Steve McInnis stepped down in February

TRD New York /
Jun.June 18, 2018 05:32 PM

From the left: Joseph Geiger, Steve McInnis, Peter Corrigan, and the New York City District Council Center at 395 Hudson Street (Credit: CCA Metro, Local Union 212 and Google Maps)

Two fired employees of the New York City District Council of Carpenters claim leaders of the union kept sexual harassment allegations against its president secret for several months.

The letter — filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday — claims the union’s leaders knew that a female employee had accused Steve McInnis of sexual harassment months before notifying the union’s members. McInnis resigned in February amid unspecified allegations of misconduct, though the New York Daily News hinted at the time that it could involve sexual harassment.

The union’s independent monitor, Glen McGorty, was informed of the allegations in late December and launched an investigation before recommending McInnis resign, his March report indicates.

The letter was filed on behalf of a former labor organizer, Michael Donnelly, and a former business agent and Local 212 member, Peter Corrigan. Corrigan maintains that the union’s leadership received various complaints of harassment and should’ve called for an investigation prior to its December 2017 election, at which time they were aware of the allegation but allowed McInnis to be re-elected.

Corrigan has been pushing for the resignation of Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger, Director of Operations Matthew Walker and Vice President Michael Cavanaugh for allegedly “allowing a hostile work environment to persist.”

Representatives for the carpenters’ union declined to comment. McInnis couldn’t immediately be reached by phone or email.

“Like many complaints lodged by disaffected members of the union and disgruntled former employees, these allegations are without merit,” McGorty said in a separate letter filed in response.

The letter also calls on the court to intervene to assuage “concerns of retaliation made against Mr. Corrigan’s continued membership, rights, and protections under the law.”

It’s unclear why Corrigan was fired. The letter indicates that he and Donnelly are also pursuing allegations of civil rights violations against the District Council, though it doesn’t appear that a separate complaint has yet been filed.

Donnelly was fired last year, for his “inability to meet job standards,” a spokesperson for the District Council previously said. The Real Deal reported that he was terminated after filing a safety complaint at a development site belonging to McInnis’ brother.

An attorney for Corrigan and Donnelly, Donna Clancy, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Their letter also comes as an opposing slate of candidates — William McKenna, Kevin Corrigan and John Defalco — continue to fight the December 2017 election results. In the lead-up to the election, opposing candidates had accused each other of various election law violations. The union’s monitor ultimately stood by the election results.

The carpenter’s union has been under the supervision of an independent monitor since 1994. Earlier this month, the court extended the monitor’s term through March 2019.

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