Van Zandt union president suspended

The American Federation of Government Employees union has suspended the president of the local that represents 780 employees at Van Zandt VA Medical Center for alleged verbal abuse and threatening behavior directed at his vice president.

The AFGE recently sent a suspension letter to Andy Scherzinger explaining that it had “preferred charges against you for conduct detrimental and inimical to the best interests” of the union, based on accusations that Scherzinger “directed verbally abusive and menacing language towards (the local vice president), threw papers from a table, punched a door and approached (the vice president) in what she perceive(d) was a threatening manner.” Scherzinger had also allegedly verbally abused the vice president and others previously and the vice president “believes you may be a threat to her safety,” the letter stated.

“It’s a bunch of bull—-,” said Scherzinger, who brought the matter to the Mirror’s attention and provided a copy of the suspension letter. “It’s trumped up.”

The incident that led to the suspension occurred when he’d returned after an absence.

He’s missed time recently due to a pair of strokes this year and blood pressure and migraine problems, which led to doctors urging him not to push it, he said, adding that he’s entitled to take time off by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

It started with a general discussion about what needed to be done, then the vice president said, “I can’t keep doing it all,” Scherzinger said.

“(Then) she starts to berate and belittle me,” he said.

She also allegedly said people have been questioning his leadership, he said.

“Do you want me gone as president?” he asked.

Yes, she allegedly replied.

That “floored” him, aggravating his post-traumatic stress disorder, said Scherzinger, noting that he’s a combat veteran with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He punched a door, but the language he used was nothing she hadn’t heard before, and he didn’t say anything threatening or throw papers, he said.

He’d always gotten along with the vice president until then, he said.

The vice president is now acting local president, Scherzinger said.

Neither the vice president nor the union’s national press office responded to invitations to comment.

Van Zandt spokesman Shaun Shenk declined to comment, because it’s union matter, although he said Scherzinger would now be obligated to work at his nominal job as a supply technician.

That involves taking inventories and keeping account of equipment, Scherzinger said.

The locks have been changed on his office door, Scherzinger said.

He has lost the “trust and bond” he once had with the vice president and others who’ve “jumped on the bandwagon with her,” Scherzinger wrote in an email.

The loss of trust was in the local and district leadership, not the membership, he said.

Scherzinger will have an opportunity to respond to the charges during a trial conducted according to guidelines in the union constitution, the suspension letter states. “If the independent trial committee dismisses the charges against you, your suspension may be lifted,” the letter states.

He will need to provide his own attorney, Scherzinger said.

Neither the vice president nor the union’s national press office responded to invitations to comment.