Union Yes! for David Wilmot’s Nonprofit
Anybody remember Individual Development Inc., a nonprofit that operates 11 group homes for D.C.'s developmentally disabled residents and whose officers are some of the city's most politically connected lawyers: David Wilmot, Fred Cooke Jr., and A. Scott Bolden?
Brief back story: Last year, Attorney General Peter Nickles, citing safety concerns at two group homes run by IDI after three people died there, froze referrals to the organization and sought to have the two homes run by a court-appointed receiver. Advocates for the mentally disabled had been voicing concerns about IDI for years. Weeks after filing the lawsuit, Nickles entered into a settlement with IDI in which they pledged to do a better job caring for the city's disabled. Wilmot, IDI's president, also came under fire for the high salaries—up to $300,000 a year—IDI paid him. Wilmot said his pay was fair and he worked many years for IDI without a salary.
Now comes word from the Service Employees International Union that 150 IDI employees have voted to unionize—allegedly against Wilmot's wishes.
"Wilmot sough to convince IDI employees not to form a union in a campaign of intimidation which included meetings with employees pleading for workers to give him another chance," reads an SEIU press release. The union also says that they have filed an unfair labor practice charge against IDI for firing an employee for advocating in support of the union. LL has asked for a copy of the report and will post if he gets it.
SEIU official Avril Smith says IDI employees feel they are underpaid and unappreciated by management. She says most employees the union spoke with made $10 an hour during the week and $11 an hour on weekends. Smith noted that many IDI employees have to rely on Medicaid or other forms of government assistance to cover health care costs.
LL has tried unsuccessfully to contact Wilmot, a confidant to former Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry, and will update as necessary. For more info on Wilmot's troubles with Still Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration, see an old LL column here, and for Wilmot's woes with Anthony Williams' administration, see another old LL column here.
What's interesting to this LL is the fact that Wilmot is a political adviser to Almost Mayor Vince Gray. Gray has spent most of his adult career trying to improve the conditions of the developmentally disabled, and is also perceived as a strong friend to organized labor. So LL wonders what he thinks of IDI's past and current problems.
Next time LL gets a chance to quiz Gray, he'll ask.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery