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Ousted family seeks to keep control of grocery union

DENVER - Members of the Duran family, who are local leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said they will use member dues to challenge their defeat in a recent election.

Cordova led a slate of candidates who unseated the majority of the governing executive board. The newly-elected leaders take office Jan. 1.

Union attorney Crisanta Duran, Ernest Duran's daughter, was also defeated in her own bid for executive office. She said a challenge would be filed with the union's parent organization, the international UFCW.

If the international UFCW does not order a second election, Crisanta Duran said an appeal would be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. She said a decision by the parent union is expected within three months.

Duran said the election was influenced by "outright lies" about nepotism and the spending of union dues by members of the Duran family.

She rejected suggestions that the union had been co-opted by her family, stating that their individual qualifications "speak for themselves."

Duran defended a decision to use union resources, such as robo-calls to phone banks and e-mail lists, as a means to collect information for an election challenge.

"I am OK with using union dues to collect defamatory statements where the entire organization as a whole has been defamed," Duran said. "The members deserve to be part of a fair election."

"That is exactly the arrogance of that family. They believe that it is a family business, that it's their dynasty, and it's their money," Cordova said. "There's no regard for our membership's money."

During her campaign, Cordova made issue of a federal Department of Labor inquiry about the union's spending practices.

UFCW Local 7 spokeswoman Laura Chapin repeatedly denied knowledge of a federal investigation of the union when questioned by 9NEWS months ago.

Wednesday, Chapin said she considered the government's action to be an "audit" and therefore, her denials of an "investigation" were not misleading.

A written handout provided by Crisanta Duran to reporters on Wednesday acknowledged the Department of Labor "sent federal investigators to investigate these allegations."

Duran said the union had been cleared of wrongdoing by investigators.

A Department of Labor spokesman said he could not comment, because the department's work was not complete./>