AFT Slashes Miami Staff, Cuts Dues to Lure Teachers Back

Reeling from millions of dollars in misspent dues, 14 staffers have been laid off from the United Teachers of Dade UTD.  To coax back the more than 500 teachers who have left the union since the misspending by frmr. officials was revealed in May, the trustee appointed to run the UTD also announced a 10 percent cut in dues on June 6.

Federal officials are investigating the reported use of union funds for personal expenses by frmr. UTD officials, incl. ex-president Pat Tornillo, who alone charged at least $350,000 in travel and other recreational expenses to the UTD’s American Express card.  The Amer. Fedtn. of Teachers (AFT) has cancelled the UTD’s credit cards, ruled that only AFT officials can sign checks, and even installed new locks on the UTD’s headquarters.  Pay cuts are also looming for the remaining 38 UTD staffers: only 2 percent for employees earning less than $50,000 but as much as 27 percent for UTD acting president Shirley Johnson, from $122,000 to $89,500.

To help the UTD meet immediate expenses, the AFT is either giving or loaning at no interest at least $1.7 million.  The 10 percent dues reduction drops a full-time teacher’s annual payment from $843 to just under $760.  Whether that will be enough to lure back the teachers who have exercised their right under Florida’s Right to Work law to leave the union remains to be seen. [Miami Herald, 6/7/03]