Susan Minato is the current co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, and a longtime union activist. Since 2007, Minato has served as an officer in some capacity for the local, and prior to that, she worked as a UNITE HERE organizer.
Minato has a long history of controversy. For example, as Local 11’s director of operations, Minato fought against efforts by the Department of Labor to ensure union organizers were properly paid for their overtime. In total, an investigator for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division estimated Local 11 owed nearly $200,000 in “unpaid overtime.” Between June 30, 2006 and June 29, 2008, the period that the investigation was ongoing, Local 11 paid more than $360,000 to Davis, Cowell, and Bowe, the law firm they retained.
In 2009, Minato and Local 11’s leadership were accused by members of pushing a dues increase in order to fund the union’s then-ongoing union turf war with Workers United and SEIU. The intra-union squabble, which saw UNITE HERE engage in “harassment,” was unsurprisingly about one thing and one thing only: union members and the dues they pay. How much does Local 11 care about dues? Well, one rival union member alleged she was “visited” at her home by UNITE HERE organizers.
UNITE HERE’s house visits may have even been Minato’s idea. Minato has previously recounted visiting the home of a “Thai cook” to try and recruit her into becoming an organizer for a Local 11 union drive. Even though Minato admitted the cook barely spoke English, Minato pressured her to not only join Local 11, but also “to take on her husband.” Unsurprisingly, Minato’s pitch was unsuccessful and she lamented “obviously, a Thai organizer would have helped.” In 2016, Minato boasted about how she and UNITE HERE will “target” “angry” workers and “house visit them,” and convince them to try to unionize their workplace. In a laughing tone, Minato added workers find her offer “hard to turn down.”
Minato may make a big show of standing up for workers, but it is difficult to imagine how much she can even relate to those she claims to represent. Minato has worked in union activism for decades, and her last non-union related job was during Los Angeles’ 1992 mayoral campaign, when the union “loaned [her] to the Democratic Party.” Minato has admitted she pushes workers to get involved with Local 11 campaigns, knowing full well they risk “losing a lot of things.” Don’t worry though – Minato believes these losses (as in, your losses, not hers) “are necessary to win a union campaign.”
Minato’s time at Local 11 may not have truly benefited the union’s members, but one person we can confidently say has benefited is Minato herself. Since 2000, Local 11 and UNITE HERE’s national headquarter have paid Minato an incredible $2,129,939.
Remarkably, that figure also does not include the more than $600,000 Local 11 has paid to Minato’s husband, Gregory Griffith, who serves as an alleged IT consultant for the union. Beginning in 2014, Local 11 began making huge annual payments to Griffith, a self-proclaimed part-time DJ, for his IT support.
|Payments By Local 11 To Susan Minato’s Husband, Gregory Griffith|
|Year||Amount Paid That Year To Griffith|
2014 was also the same year that Griffith had a minor part in the pilot episode of show that was never picked up. At the time, Griffith had a seemingly unused commercial insurance license he eventually let lapse in 2016.
It is unclear what skills qualify Griffith for the high salary he commands from Local 11. In March 2017, Griffith’s online username (Ggplush) posted to HP’s support forum, asking for help with a laptop that would not turn on – sophisticated work for someone who earned more than $94,000 that year. As Eyes On Local 11 has also previously reported, Local 11 may be overpaying by as much as three times for Griffith’s IT services. 2014, the year that Local 11’s payments to Griffith began, is the same year Griffith’s LinkedIn claims he formed an information technologies company called Viscount Media, which ironically appears to have zero web presence. Griffith has also previously listed himself as self-employed, suggesting his only source of income is Local 11.
Minato’s and Griffith’s generous salaries – paid for with dues collected from UNITE HERE members – no doubt helped them afford a more than 2,700 square foot house (estimated value of $2 million). More recently, in February 2022, Minato and her husband took a luxurious vacation to Europe, where they visited Italy, Paris, Venice, and Rome.