New Head of Correction Officers' Union Already Rattling City Hall

By: 
Courtney Gross

Two months ago, one of the most powerful union leaders in the city, Norman Seabrook, was arrested on corruption charges.

His second-in-command, Elias Husamudeen, quickly stepped into the role. And now, the new head of the correction officers' union is already rattling City Hall.

"The commissioner either needs to lead or leave. Get out the way," Husamudeen said.

Within the last week, Husamudeen has called for the resignation of the current correction commissioner, Joseph Ponte. And he has demanded the city remove inmates from Rikers Island who have assaulted correction officers. He shows a photo as proof of injuries on the job.

"We're interested right now in this. This is happening right now."

Part of the union's issue is the administration's promise to get rid of solitary confinement for 19- to 21-year-olds. Husamudeen doesn't want that to happen.

"It's like calling in a New York City police officer, taking his gun and telling him to go fight crime. How does that work?" he said.

For years, Husamudeen was considered Norman Seabrook's right-hand man, and in his short tenure as union leader so far, he is continuing many of his predecessor's positions.

"If the condition is the same, why should anything be different?" he said.

Husamudeen became treasurer of the union in 1995, working his way up to first vice president. He was on the board when Seabrook allegedly conducted his corruption scheme, investing union money in a hedge fund in exchange for kickbacks.

"I don't think I have to tell you that this is an ongoing investigation," Husamudeen said. "That's not really something that I want to comment on

For now, it's unclear if their relationship has soured. All Husamudeen told us is he spoke to Seabrook after his arrest.

 

One relationship the new union leader does not appear interested in repairing is with City Hall.

"We're going to remind those people who are ignoring us now that we're going to ignore them when it's time for their elections," he said.