UPDATE: Labor big a real heavy sleeper Just another doze at the office for union’s ‘scarf-&-snore’ prez
Union fat cat Mark Rosenthal spends more time sleeping at his desk than organizing labor, a series of damning photos reveals.
The 400-pound president of Local 983 of District Council 37 — the city’s largest blue-collar municipal-workers union — often downs a huge meal, then drops into dreamland in the early afternoon, members of the union’s executive board told The Post.
“He eats lunch when he arrives at work at 2 p.m. Then, like clockwork, he goes to sleep with a cup of soda on the table and the straw in it,” said Marvin Robbins, a union vice president.
“Then he wakes up, looks at his watch and says, ‘I have to get out before the traffic gets bad.’ He’s usually out by 4 p.m. after being at the office two hours.”
IT’S A DREAM JOB: Mark Rosenthal, who pulls in $156,000 a year as head of Local 983 of District Council 37, nods off at his desk during one of a series of postlunch naps that have outraged members of the union’s executive board.
Rosenthal is a former Parks Department employee who rose to power campaigning to rid the union of corruption in the late 1990s.
He last made embarrassing headlines in 2009, when he inspired a City Council bill requiring jumbo-size ambulances for morbidly obese patients after he had a stroke at City Hall.
Since then, he hasn’t been making much of an effort to give the city’s ambulances a break and slim down. Union officials say he racks up $1,400 in monthly food bills on the union dime.
Much of the 5-foot-7, 400-plus-pound Rosenthal’s food tabs are for catered union events and meals he writes off as “union business,” board members claim.
They say he significantly overorders at eateries like Dallas BBQ, the Stage Door Deli and Pine Restaurant in The Bronx, a hangout for local politicians, and takes the extra food back to his Bronxdale apartment.
“He’s always walking off with a doggie bag or extra boxes of food,” said another executive board member.
Rosenthal, who earns $156,000 annually, yesterday denied being a free spender— and insisted he works “12-to-14-hour days.”
He says the allegations are “part of a smear campaign” by a faction trying to get another Local 983 vice president, Joseph Puleo, elected president in a June 5 showdown.
He said it’s normal for executives to take “power naps.”
He also blamed his meetings with the sandman on the effects of pain medication he takes for backaches he has suffered since he fell through a chair at a McDonald’s last year.
“The chair broke because I’m big,” Rosenthal said.
“I’m 60 years old, so if I eat during my lunch hour and take a little medication, can’t I close my eyes?” he said outside his apartment complex. “Is it so outrageous?”
Rosenthal is also under fire from the union’s executive board for allowing lawyer Arthur Schwartz to allegedly rack up an average of $12,000 a month in union legal fees for years despite being on a $5,500 monthly retainer, board members said.
But Schwartz claims he has submitted only one monthly bill over $10,000 in 15 years representing the union and averages about $7,000 per month in fees.
The executive board on May 15 voted to fire Schwartz anyway — and also to pull Rosenthal’s union car.
Board members said they were furious enough to fire Schwartz because he pursued a lawsuit on Rosenthal’s behalf aimed at changing the makeup of the union’s election committee after it nominated Puleo as a candidate for president on May 7.
Rosenthal responded to Schwartz’s firing by filing another suit days later in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming the May 15 meeting occurred without his approval.
The suit also accuses executive board members of using union resources to sway the election in Puleo’s favor.
“Mr. Puleo and his cohorts have basically seized control without having won the election,” the suit says.
“Not only that, [but] they have [also] assigned legal work to attorneys, including to Mr. Puleo’s campaign lawyer.”
Puleo called Rosenthal’s allegations “absurd,” adding, “He’s the one using the union’s resources to sue members in good standing.”
The case has since been moved to a federal court in Manhattan with a hearing set for today.
The union represents 3,000 workers — mostly Parks Department peace officers and maintenance workers and NYPD tow-truck operators and other traffic agents that are among the lowest-paid city workers.
But they still fork over $1,080 in annual union dues that help fund Rosenthal’s salary and perks.
Rosenthal has headed the union since 1998, when he won an election under the platform of ridding the union of corruption and alleged mob ties. At the time, he called the union a “cesspool.”
Some members say he was a strong labor advocate for the union in his early years, but his questionable spending and sleeping habits — and alleged lack of attention to union issues — in recent years led to Puleo’s campaign.
He has also ruled the union with little opposition in part because he and Schwartz have strong political connections at City Hall, so members say they were afraid to go up against them until now.
“There was always the fear that he’d use his power to retaliate against anyone who spoke up,” Puleo said.
“He always likes to say he’s a big supporter of Mayor Bloomberg and the fact that the mayor called him to thank him for his support when he was elected.
“I would love to see the mayor’s face if he saw the big sodas that he likes to drink. It’s kind of ironic.”
Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli
- By LORENA MONGELLI, RICH CALDER and BOB FREDERICKS
- Last Updated: 8:32 AM, May 29, 2013
- Posted: 1:28 AM, May 29, 2013
Maybe he slept through it.
The union fat cat exposed by The Post for gorging and snoozing on the job has a roommate who ran a crystal-meth lab right under his nose, authorities said.
The FBI raided Local 983 President Mark Rosenthal’s Olinville Avenue apartment in Bronxdale in 2006 as part of a methamphetamine sting, nailing Rosenthal’s roommate, Eric Wright, on drug charges.
Rosenthal told The Post yesterday he was clueless about the illicit operation.
“Did you ever see a 400-pound meth addict?” he asked, adding that Wright is still renting a room from him after spending a year in jail. “This is ridiculous. I wasn’t involved. I wasn’t charged with anything.”
Shown a copy of yesterday’s Post featuring photos of him sleeping at his desk on different days, the 5-foot-7, 400-pound Rosenthal defended his work as the president of the local repping members of District Council 37.
“With everything going on in the world, a picture of a big fat guy sleeping shouldn’t be on the front page,” Rosenthal said. “It hurts. You think I like being so heavy? I’m fat, but I have feelings, too.”
Rosenthal, 60, confessed that diets have not worked for him and that he was rejected as a candidate for the kind of weight-loss surgery New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie underwent.
“The doctor said I’m unable to do the operation because I’m too big,” he said.
Rosenthal insisted he only took office “power naps” to stay sharp at his $156,000-a-year job heading the city’s largest blue-collar union.
“I work 10-hour days, sometimes seven days a week,” he said, adding he gets also drowsy because of pain medication he takes for injuries suffered when he crashed through a chair to the floor of a McDonald’s in 2012.
He said he tried to get a cash settlement from the fast-food giant, but McDonald’s refused to pay.
The embattled union chief angrily blamed political foes challenging him in a June 5 election for smearing him over his work ethic.
Rosenthal added that the hefty meal tabs for which he bills the union up to $1,400 a month from favorites like Dallas BBQ and F&J Pine Restaurant in The Bronx include food he orders for other staffers.
Mayor Bloomberg weighed in in on Rosenthal yesterday when asked what he’d do if a city employee were found sleeping on the job.
“I think we’d have some serious questions as to whether that person should continue to be employed,” he said.