A high school history teacher on Dec. 27 asked a fed. judge to throw out his local union’s executive bd. for failing to prevent several years of alleged embezzlement by the union’s president and two other officers. The teacher, Nathan Saunders, also asked Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (U.S.D.C., DC, Clinton) for a restraining order against the 21-member ex. bd. of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) and its parent union, the Amer. Fedtn. of Teachers (AFT). A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7.
Saunders was one of many teachers who saw a deduction of $160 from his paycheck for union dues last summer when only about $20 was expected. Saunders contacted the WTU several times to try and resolve the overcharge, but was rebuffed. Finally, officials from the AFT began a probe which has now expanded into a federal investigation of WTU president Barbara Bullock, chief asst. Gwendolyn Hemphill and treasurer James Baxter. The three are alleged to have stolen some $2 million from the WTU since 1995.
Local AFT affiliates are required to submit an audit of their finances to the natl. headquarters every two years. But the WTU never submitted an audit under Bullock’s reign, and Saunders blames both the WTU ex. bd. and the AFT for failing to properly oversee the officers’ actions.
Fed. investigators have retrieved hundreds of expensive clothes, shoes, artwork and electronics allegedly bought with union dues by the three officers, but prosecutors have yet to file formal charges against the three, who have been forced to resign their offices by the AFT. [Washington Post 12/31/02]