SEIU Keeps Pressure On Sunrise Senior Living

The Service Employees International Union Master Trust, the union's $1.7 billion pension fund, today made clear they plan an active agenda for Tuesday's annual meeting of Sunrise Senior Living, the McLean assisted living company.

Though it's not among Sunrise's largest shareholders, the group has been among its most active. SEIU officials have raised questions about whether Sunrise executives participated in insider trading and options backdating as the company was forced to restate around $120 million in earnings.

Sunrise announced a week and a half ago the preliminary results of an investigation by a special committee of the board into the allegations of accounting misconduct.

The committee concluded that Sunrise executives did not intentionally manipulate earnings or engage in inappropriate conduct by awarding stock options or trading the company's shares. Sunrise declined to comment on the SEIU release.

At the annual meeting Tuesday - scheduled for 9 a.m. at the McLean Hilton - the SEIU is asking all shareholders to show up and vote on several measures. They include:

* Changing the way Sunrise's board is elected. Currently, several but not all directors are elected annually. Sunrise wants all directors to stand for annual election to make it easier to force change among the board.

Stephen Abrecht, executive director of the master trust, wrote in a letter to shareholders that the current situation "has contributed to the insularity and conflicts of interest that characterize the board and created an extremely high hurdle for significant leadership change."

* Opposing the reelection of board director Craig R. Callen, a member of the board's audit and compensation committee who SEIU blames in part for the company's accounting problems.

* Supporting a measure to reclaim compensation paid to senior executives "on performance goals that were not achieved."

* Supporting the election of Lynn Krominga, an independent management consultant, to the board. Krominga joined the board on an interim basis after Sunrise settled a lawsuit with Millennium Corp., a New York hedge fund and major investor in the company.

Millennium sued Sunrise to add a member to the board and hold an annual meeting. Sunrise agreed to do that and only that, but the SEIU then sued to say the company would have to entertain other shareholder proposals at an annual meeting. Sunrise agreed and the suit was settled.

--Zachary Goldfarb

By Dan Beyers  |  October 9, 2007; 5:25 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

The SEIU needs to leave the assisted living industry alone. By increasing their influence, spreading their web of corruption and pursing the ultimate goal of increased union dues, they are a truly dishonest group.

Posted by: honest_abe | October 10, 2007 8:54 AM

honest_abe sounds like a Sunrise Executive. Sunrise CEO Paul Klaussen has built a myth about how he has improved senior care. Paul has enriched himself and his cronies, has lied, gave himself a huge bonus almost equal to his enormous salary, pays very little money to the employees (care givers, etc at the various locations), claims there is no money to actually help to better the care of the seniors who are stupid to move to a Sunrise in the first place, and places profit before good , proper senior care. Jail time would be fitting for Paul Klaussen.

Posted by: MikeC | October 10, 2007 12:15 PM

Nope, not a Sunrise exec. Just a concerned "little guy" that doesnt want to see my job affected, my paycheck lowered, my work place stressful and relationship with my boss and my residents affected by the union and all their empty promises of making stuff better. This whole "Campaign to Improve Assisted Living" is a joke. It's all about control and union dues, plain and simple. If you want to single out self serving people, start with Andy Stern and his ilk....

Posted by: honest_abe | October 16, 2007 9:46 AM

Honest Abe, you are 100% correct. The care that is received at these facilities is way below standard care. They do not pay their staff enough money, do not train them properly and do not supervise staff. It is appalling. My dog gets better care at the kennel. The Klaussans believe they are above reproach. They need a serious wake up call.

Posted by: melleejohn | December 21, 2007 8:31 AM

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