Nathan Saunders didn’t quite get the closure he was looking for. But the one he got will more than do. Saunders is currently vice president of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). Back in 2002, as a high-school teacher in the city school system, he filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against several former WTU officials, the local’s parent affiliate American Federation of Teachers, and a Washington, D.C. financial institution, Independence Federal Savings Bank. The defendants, whose roster includes various convicted local officers, including now-imprisoned ex-President Barbara Bullock, had stolen at least $4.6 million during the period 1995-2002. Saunders spoke for a lot of dues-paying members in demanding full recovery of the money. He wound up getting about a tenth of his wish.
Late this November the WTU and AFT agreed to a settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, to “jointly pursue the recovery of money from those who embezzled and absconded with millions of dollars…and entities that aided and abetted or facilitated the embezzlement of funds…” The settlement outlined a repayment plan, in which the local, over a four-year period, will reimburse the AFT in the sum of $466,638 in delinquent teacher dues resulting from embezzlement. The local and national unions also are free to press claims against Independence Federal Savings Bank, whose officials all along have denied participating in a money-laundering scheme. Though the settlement amount is a good deal smaller than originally had been hoped for, Saunders thinks the decision sends the right message. “It requires all the national and international unions to pay more attention to what goes on in their local unions and how they handled their members,” he said. (Washington Times, 11/30).