The powerful retail union led by Amazon killer Stuart Appelbaum spent $1.9 million to buy an unoccupied luxury condo in Midtown.
A retail, wholesale and department store union affiliate raised the money for the two-bedroom apartment at 325 Fifth Ave in 2017. laid down, city records show.
The 41-story building on 32nd Street includes a swimming pool, spa and screening room.
The purchase was made by RWDSU Realty Corp. made without oversight from the union board, according to Ted Hunt, who runs a local union in Michigan and is trying to oust Appelbaum for president.
“Somehow spending union funds on a lavish lifestyle while we’re losing members is acceptable and condoned by the existing leadership. I’m sure our members would find this lavish spending morally corrupt,” Hunt says on his SaveThe RWDSU website.
He told the Post that the board only approved the purchase after a former union official, Allen Mayne, alerted the federal Department of Labor, which opened an investigation.
Mayne, who had been head of collective bargaining, told the Post he was unlawfully fired from the union and then reached a settlement agreement with her.
Appelbaum said in an April 2022 memo that a “disgruntled former employee” made “baseless allegations” about the union’s activities, which were investigated by the DOL. He said the agency found no wrongdoing and closed the case.
As evidence, he enclosed a letter from the union’s law firm, Cozen O’Connor, saying the matter was closed.
“The Department of Labor has not produced any documentation showing that they were acquitted of anything,” Hunt denied.
A Department of Labor spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
The union said the condo was bought with proceeds from the sale of another property and is considered an investment.
“RWDSU has a long and successful history of building union funds through smart real estate investments through RWDSU Realty Corp,” Appelbaum said in a statement to The Post. “This agreement put the union in its best financial condition ever and will allow the union to fund organizing efforts for years to come.”
A union spokeswoman said the apartment had been used by out-of-town union officials and employees when they came to New York on business and had resulted in “significant savings” on hotel and meal expenses.
The union’s cost for the apartment alone in annual property taxes is $34,385, according to city records.
Appelbaum, 69, a member of the Democratic National Committee, has led the 50,000-member union since 1998.
He was considered instrumental in defeating Amazon’s plan to open a second headquarters in Long Island City, which would have created 25,000 jobs. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office blasted RWDSU after the deal fell through in 2019, even though Appelbaum was one of Cuomo’s biggest supporters.
Hunt, 45, who works at a Post Foods plant in Battle Creek, Michigan, said he wants to be more accountable to the union.
https://nypost.com/2022/06/25/retail-workers-union-owns-empty-1-9-million-condo/ Retail union owns empty condo worth $1.9 million