March 9, 2018

Union leader accused of sexual harassment


Photo Credit: Joe Gratz cc

The powerful head of a major labor group in New Mexico is accused of sexual harassment.

Jon Hendry, the president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, faces a lawsuit alleging he  sexually harassed and employee and created a hostile and discriminatory workplace environment.

Christa Valdes filed the lawsuit, accusing Hendry of grabbing employees by the buttocks, sending lewd text messages and showing naked photos on his phone. The suit also accuses IATSE Local 480, for which Hendry is the business agent, of covering up the allegations when they were brought to their attention.

Valdes did public relations work for the union.

IATSE Local 480 did not respond to a request for comment.

Hendry referred NM Political Report to his attorney, who declined to comment.

Valdes alleged Hendry texted her on Aug. 30, 2016, saying, “Could you send me a pic of your naked sweaty skinny body. At least one of us will feel much better.”

The suit also says Hendry bragged “frequently about how he ruined careers of people in the industry who crossed him.”

Valdes says she was fired from her position as public relations representative in October 2017 after making the allegations. The suit says this was retaliation for making the complaints against Hendry and that Hendry pressured a local casting company who hired Valdes to fire her. Her contract with the company was terminated shortly afterward.

The suit, filed in state court, cites the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

Hendry is a powerful and active figure in New Mexico politics and has ruffled feathers in the past.

For example, in the 2013 Santa Fe mayoral race he clashed with candidate Roman “Tiger” Abeyta. Abeyta said the AFL-CIO should investigate Hendry’s involvement in a PAC that did opposition research on mayoral candidates.

The state Attorney General also investigated Hendry for fraud and embezzlement from 2007 to 2010, though declined to prosecute.