All in the Family: Nepotism Abounds at Unite Here Local 11

A new investigation of Unite Here Local 11 shows the family members of union co-presidents – Ada Briceño, Susan Minato, and Kurt Petersen – have benefited from leadership roles and employment at Local 11 and other labor unions and affiliated groups in California. 

Unite Here Local 11 Co-President Ada Briceño’s family ties spread all the way to San Jose, CA. She is married to Unite Here Local 19 leader Enrique Fernandez. Records show that Fernandez’s daughter – Maria Fernandez – appears to have benefitted from her family’s influence in the union. 

Quitclaim Deed from Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s Office:

Through her family connections in Unite Here leadership, it appears that Maria Fernandez has climbed the ranks of several labor-friendly non-profit organizations since the early 2010’s. The non-profit organizations she is involved in also happen to be groups her father has worked with for more than a decade. 

Maria Fernandez currently serves as the executive director of Working Partnerships USA, a group her father has been president of since 2008 – Enrique Fernandez has been on the board since at least 2006

Maria Fernandez began working at the group in 2012. Unite Here Local 19 has paid the group for “research services” and “charity” every year since. The total payments amount to over $200,000. 

Maria Fernandez had her salary go from $62,966 in 2015 to $176,533 in total compensation in 2021. 

According to Working Partnerships USA 2015 990:

According to Working Partnerships USA 2021 990:

Maria Fernandez has also climbed the ranks at the South Bay AFL-CIO, where she was first listed in 2017 as a trustee and is now the first vice president of the executive board. Enrique Fernandez has been treasurer of South Bay AFL-CIO since at least 2004. Since 2010, Unite Here Local 19 has paid the group more than $100,000

According to South Bay Labor’s Board and Staff page:

Unite Here’s benefits to the Fernandez family do not stop there. Maria Fernandez’s husband – Carlos Cortes – also appears to be a beneficiary of the union. In 2016, Carlos Cortes Reyes was listed as a receptionist of Unite Here Local 19 making $38,039 a year. In 2022, Carlos Cortes made $65,364 as an executive board director. 

According to the Office of Labor Management Standards:

Local 11’s nepotism unfortunately doesn’t end there. Co-President Susan Minato’s husband has been paid a substantial sum of money from the union for “IT Services.”

Gregory Griffith – Susan Minato’s husband – earned more than $600,000 for IT services from 2014 to 2021. Griffith and Minato now live in a home that is worth over $two million.

Unite Here Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen also has a family member benefiting from his position. Hannah Petersen – daughter of Kurt Petersen – is an organizer for the union. While the union reportedly pressured out-of-work members to pay dues during the pandemic, Hannah Petersen actually managed to get a seven percent pay hike. 

While employed at the union in 2020, it appears Hannah Petersen lived in the same house as her father. Federal Election Commission data from Kurt Petersen and a leaked email from Hannah Petersen list the same address. 

According to the Kurt Petersen FEC contribution:

Hannah Petersen’s email:

Apparently, Local 11’s leadership spends plenty of time placing family members in positions of influence – often footing the bill with members’ dues dollars. But union members might be less than thrilled to know how rampant nepotism runs at Unite Here.