Jon Hendry, the embattled boss of IATSE Local 480 in Santa Fe, is no longer running the day-to-day operations of the union in the wake of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him. The union will hold a general membership meeting on Sunday to decide whether or not Hendry should be removed from office.
“At this time, the staff, secretary-treasurer Frank Garcia, and I are handling the day-to-day business of the local, with frequent contact with, and advice and direction, from our attorney and the IA,” wrote Local 480 president Doug Acton in an update to the union’s members.
“I know everyone wants answers right now and rumors are running wild,” he wrote. “Please remember that this is a legal matter; our attorney will be at the meeting to talk to you. The protection of this local is our priority.”
Hendry, who until recently was one of the most powerful and politically connected union leaders in New Mexico, was removed as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor AFL-CIO earlier this week in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations.
In a lawsuit filed on March 6, Christa Valdez, the local’s former outside public relations rep, claimed Hendry sent her a text in 2016 that said, “Could you send me a pic of your naked, sweaty, skinny body? At least one of us will feel much better.” The suit also claims he “continually harassed and intimidated her with sexual propositions and inappropriate conditions to maintain employment,” and accused him of “bragging frequently about how he ruined careers of people in the industry who crossed him.”
According to her suit, he fired her when she complained, and then when she found a job with a local casting company, he reached out and got her fired there too.
A second woman, 29-year-old Madeleine Lauve, joined Valdez in her lawsuit yesterday. In an amended complaint, they are suing Hendry, Local 480, and its parent union — the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — claiming that they engaged in “a pattern of racketeering activity” to keep them silent and allow Hendry to remain in a position of power and to continue harassing women.
Lauve’s complaint states that she was an employee of the local from 2013 to 2014 and that she was also attempting to establish membership in the local. “During this period, Hendry subjected Ms. Lauve to discriminatory conditions, including an explicit quid pro quo for sex, to maintain and to improve her employment and to qualify for and be admitted as a labor organization member of IATSE.”
Her suit says he fired her after she refused to have sex with him anymore. “The work and labor organization environment became hostile and aggressive, and Ms. Lauve was eventually terminated from IATSE Local 480, as well as undermined on a Local 480 craft services assignment, on or about March 21, 2014, as a result of Ms. Lauve having ceased to consent to and begun to oppose Hendry’s quid pro quo.”
Acton told his members that “Upon my return on March 13 from a 10-day vacation out of the country, I made multiple phone calls about how to proceed to deal with the legal situation the local is in. The local’s attorney will be at Sunday’s general membership meeting to address questions. The executive board and our attorney will visit all options on how to legally protect the local during this time.”