“The new administrators of the United Teachers of Dade are taking constructive steps to lay a better foundation for the troubled union. That’s encouraging news for members disillusioned by the union’s leadership scandal. But it also is good news for the broader community, which has benefited in many ways from the union’s presence.” [Miami Herald editorial, 6/13/03]
Before the American Federation of Teachers accepts the “constructive steps” award given by the Herald in its June 13 editorial, it’s worth asking where they were as Pat Tornillo was spending the United Teachers of Dade into financial ruin. AFT Locals are supposed to submit an audit every two years to the Washington, D.C. headquarters. D.C. local officials failed to do so for seven years while reportedly stealing $5 million. But on April 30, AFT lawyers admitted to federal judge Emmet Sullivan that the AFT had no responsibility to even verify that such an audit had been submitted. Judge Sullivan is now considering the imposition of a court-appointed trustee on the Washington Local.
Perhaps, the UTD actually submitted the required audits to the AFT. But did anyone in Washington, D.C. notice? Perhaps if unions representing only public employees had to submit annual financial reports to the U.S. Department of Labor, they would notice. Presently, only unions representing private sector workers are required to submit such reports under the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act. What the scandals in Washington and Dade show is that such accountability is overdue in the public sector.