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Globe union president takes leave

Daniel Totten, under fire after recent contract talks, is taking a medical leave. Daniel Totten, under fire after recent contract talks, is taking a medical leave.
By Robert Gavin
Globe Staff / September 29, 2009

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The president of The Boston Globe’s largest union has taken a medical leave, as other union officials prepare to file internal charges against him, alleging that he signed the name of another officer on a check, according to members with knowledge of the matter.

Once charges against Boston Newspaper Guild president Daniel Totten are filed - and that could come as early as today - the union has 60 days to hold a trial. The jury would consist of seven members selected by lottery, according to these members, and would determine whether Totten violated the union’s constitution. If so, it would set his punishment.

Totten could not be reached last night, but in e-mails to members last week Totten denied any financial impropriety. The Guild represents more than 600 editorial, advertising, and business office workers.

Members of the union’s governing board, which includes top officers and delegates from departments represented by the Guild, were briefed on the situation last night. Totten is accused of signing the name of vice president Scott Steeves on his own paycheck, which required a countersignature of another union officer, according to members with knowledge of the matter.

Steeves, who was unaware that Totten had signed his name, will serve as acting president, union members said. Steeves could not be reached for comment last night.

The allegation against Totten came to the attention of union officials a little over a week ago, prompting the Guild’s executive committee to launch an audit of union finances and prepare internal charges against Totten, while canceling his credit card and suspending his check-signing authority.

Totten, who has served as president since 2005, has come under criticism for his handling of recent negotiations with The New York Times Co. and for what some members see as his sporadic communications with members. A group of members recently launched a petition to recall Totten and other union leaders and have gathered more than 200 signatures, according to organizers.

Robert Gavin can be reached at rgavin@globe.com.