Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File 2017
The head of a large union that represents health care workers across Massachusetts has been suspended after allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Tyrék D. Lee Sr. leads the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1199, which represents about 56,000 workers in Massachusetts. He faces accusations of sexual harassment, according to people familiar with the situation.
Union officials did not detail the allegations.
“1199SEIU strongly condemns all forms of inappropriate conduct and will not tolerate such behavior by any employee of our union,” the union said in a statement Tuesday. “Upon being made aware of these allegations 1199SEIU has taken the action of suspending Executive Vice President Tyrék Lee while a formal investigation is conducted.”
Lee could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.
His suspension comes amid a tide of sexual harassment and assault allegations against male executives across a broad range of industries around the country, including entertainment, politics, the news media, and restaurants.
Lee took the top job at 1199SEIU in January 2016, when he was 38. He was the first black male to lead a statewide union. The Massachusetts union is part of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest health care union in the country
Lee was widely praised for rising from a rank-and-file hospital employee (he was once a telephone operator at Boston Medical Center) to a union executive.
Lee has talked about his difficult childhood. He was born in Boston but spent his early years in Cleveland, being raised by his grandmother and great-grandmother. He moved back to Boston when he was 13 to live with his mother. He became a father of three by the time he was 20, and he started working in hospitals to help pay child support.
“With hope, which I had, and people around me believing in me, which I had, I went from a telephone operator in 2003 to a vice president in 2010,” Lee told the Globe last year.
Lee has advocated for workers’ rights, including in the national movement to boost starting wages to $15 an hour.
The 1199SEIU represents workers at hospitals and other health care facilities across Massachusetts.
Last year, the union pushed a ballot question that would have slashed payments to the state’s largest health system, Partners HealthCare, while boosting payments to many other hospitals. The controversial question was avoided after a compromise was reached. That compromise paved the way for the SEIU to organize more workers at Partners hospitals.
With Lee in charge, the union’s membership has been growing. It represents workers in service, clerical, and technical jobs.
Formed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, the company will be led by Brigham and Women’s surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande.Continue reading »
The high cost of housing in the region is forcing some recent college graduates to move back in with mom and dad to save money.Continue reading »
American Airlines and United Continental both asked the federal government not to fly children separated from their families on their aircraft.Continue reading »
After operating in the Seaport since early 2017 with no safety issues, NuTonomy Inc. received approval to send its vehicles into the rest of Boston.Continue reading »
The Food and Drug Administration will rethink its controversial proposal to require maple syrup and honey producers to label their products as containing added sugars.Continue reading »
General Electric, an original member of the stock index, will be removed and replaced by Walgreens.Continue reading »
Thurston and Buffy must be clinking champagne glasses at their Weston spread now that the Supreme Judicial Court has thrown the millionaires tax off the ballot.Continue reading »
It sounds like a preposterous idea: Collect a sample of every type of bacteria that lives in the human gut. But that’s the goal of Bernat Olle, an MIT-trained chemical engineer. Over the past three years, the Cambridge biotech startup he runs, Vedanta Biosciences Inc., has assembled a menagerie of some 60,000 bacteria types.Continue reading »
Foundation Medicine is a cancer-focused gene-sequencing company that recently won approval for a diagnostic test aimed at personalizing cancer care.Continue reading »