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United Teachers of Dade staffers draw School District pay and benefits, but do not work at a school

In July, the Miami Herald identified 42 positions in various Miami-Dade County divisions that collected $2.65 million-plus in salaries from taxpayers as of July 2013 — but they don’t have to do their county jobs.

The 42 employees are excused from reporting to their assigned work sites to perform their duties so they can serve as union representatives, and they cannot be fired for not doing county work under Miami-Dade’s agreements with the 10 unions representing workers. On paper, the exempt union workers hold a variety of positions, from six-figure police and firefighters to lesser-paid public-transit workers.

The pressure to end this wasteful practice has intensified as a county commissioner is seeking to end this practice and forcing the county mayor to address this practice in negotiations.

L-R UTD President Fedrick Ingram, UTD First Vice President Tom Gammon, UTD Secretary/Treasure Karla Hernandez-Mats. For a larger view click on the photo.

Apparently, the Herald missed this practice at the United Teachers of Dade (UTD), as there are 11 (3 officers, 8 staffers) Miami-Dade School Board employees that are fully released to work and operate the union- termed “teachers on special assignment (TSAs).”

Considering salary, retirement contributions, and fringe benefits the total cost of these TSAs is between $700,000- $1 million for taxpayers.

On paper, these TSAs are assigned to various school-based assignments. In reality, they are UTD officers and staffers that visit schools to campaign, build membership, and represent employees at grievance hearings – on the public dime.

It seems noble in theory, but considering ongoing questionable union spending and problems, in particular the ongoing legal saga of Geno Perez and his election lawsuit, why should taxpayers foot the bill?

Karen Aronowitz

In March 2010, Geno Perez lost the UTD presidential election to Karen Aronowitz amid questionable electoral practices and irregularities. To seek the truth and to end electoral practices that many union members deem as fraudulent, Perez filed suit to obtain the online voting records. If UTD and Karen Aronowitz committed no wrongs, why has UTD spent well over $250,000 of the hard working dues-paying members’ money in keeping Geno Perez from the electoral records?

If UTD is willing to spend the members’ dues money to oppose a lawsuit that seeks to fix a broken electoral process and bring justice to the folks who may have committed electoral fraud, then taxpayers should not have to subsidize UTD officers and staffers.

On principle, they shouldn’t have to anyway. Most Florida counties do not allow this practice.

Rather, let the Florida Education AssociationAmerican Federation of Teachers, or National Education Association subsidize them and/or staff UTD positions with retired members who choose to volunteer.

With certain stewards they are not earning their keep as it is. UTD needs to keep in mind they work for the membership and therefore they work for teachers. Teachers do not work for them.

Yet, UTD ignores WDW – FL requests for information. We have reported the IPEGS fraud and test cheating incident at Norland Senior High School and referred their inactions to PERC.

The UTD feels entitled to union dues money and the TSA arrangements, but they do not want to do what’s required of them – working for union stewards and the membership. Memo to UTD: You don’t get something for nothing!

If UTD wants to keep union stewards in the dark and their membership stupid, so be it, but they shouldn’t be rewarded for it. If UTD chooses not to reform this practice, perhaps the Miami-Dade School Board and Florida Legislature should?

To the elected officials and legislators who read this, simply put, this practice is illegal and constitutes possible fraud, certainly waste and abuses taxpayers, who should not have to foot the bill for union activities.

Perhaps it is time to let these union staffers earn an honest day’s pay from the UTD for an honest day’s work at the UTD?

Trevor Colestock

Trevor Colestock has been the Library Media Specialist and a union steward at Miami Norland Senior High School for the past seven years. Mr. Colestock had been an ESE teacher at Miami Central Senior High School for seven years prior. Mr. Colestock holds an AA in History from Miami-Dade Community College, a BA in History from Florida International University, a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida, and a Specialist in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University.

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Categories: Education, Must Read, News, Policy, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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