Thank God for tipsters. At least that’s what many members of Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 491 probably are thinking now. Officials of the local, representing state-funded caregivers and other employees at the Rainier School in Buckley (Pierce County), Wash., have asked the state parent organization to look into allegations that one of its members recently stole funds. The probe was triggered by an anonymous phone call to the Tacoma News Tribune. Liz Larsen, director of administration for the WFSE, confirmed that her union is investigating the possibility of embezzlement. The state federation is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The amount of missing money is in dispute. The tipster estimated the figure at $75,000, but Larsen said “it’s not anywhere near that.” Whatever the sum, it involves only dues money; i.e., no state funds. The local deducts dues from employee paychecks, and then presumably forwards the money to the state federation, which eventually returns some of it back to the local. Thus far, the WFSE has not filed a complaint with law enforcement authorities. “That’s not our process,” said Larsen. In the meantime, the suspended culprit has been relieved of her duties pending the outcome of the investigation. (Tacoma News Tribune, 8/1/07).