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Government and People
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERSNews Release
January 22, 2003
AFT Votes to Place WTU Under AdministratorshipWASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) today voted unanimously to appoint an administrator to operate the Washington Teachers Union (WTU), an affiliate of the AFT.
The Council also voted unanimously to appoint George C. Springer, the former head of the Connecticut Federation of Educational and Professional Employees, and most recently the Northeast Regional Director for the AFT, to be the administrator and run the day-to-day operations of the local union. The appointment is effective immediately.
"The unprecedented injustice that has been perpetrated against WTU members can only be addressed by the strongest of measures -- the kind of action we have taken today," said Sandra Feldman, president of the AFT. "Putting an administrator in to run the daily operations of the WTU will ensure that the local will have the strong leadership and support needed to overcome the burden inflicted an the union by a few individuals, and to enable the members to attend confidently to their work of educating children."
The AFT's decision marks the first time in the union's history that it has imposed an administratorship on a local. Under the AFT's constitution, the administrator will have full authority to run all aspects of the union.
"It's time for Washington's teachers to be allowed to focus on what's going on in the classroom, not the courtroom," said George Springer, in accepting the appointment. "I look forward to helping the WTU put its house in order and to working with WTU members, seed providing the kind of support and guidance they can use to the benefit of their students."
The AFT's action follows its filing of a lawsuit last week against several individuals - including the former president of the WTU, Barbara Bullock; the former treasurer, James Baxter; and the former assistant to Ads. Bullock, Gwendolyn Hemphill -- to recover funds that the national union charged were misappropriated from the WTU The lawsuit was based in part on an independent forensic audit conducted at the request of the AFT, which revealed that more than $5 million was taken from the WTU.
AFT initiated the audit in August 2002 after determining that something was amiss with the finances of the WTU. The national union had been notified by a member about an overcharge in the automatic dues deduction. The AFT immediately sent in its financial services department to investigate and quickly determined that there were a number of irregular transactions, including credit card purchases made and checks written that lacked proper authorization. The AFT then turned the matter over to the Office of the U. S, Attorney and also retained an independent auditing firm to conduct the forensic audit.
The AFT represents more than 1. 2 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers, paraprofessionals arid other school support employees, higher education faculty, nurses and other healthcare workers, and state and local government employees.
During his tenure as AFT vice president, Springer was a member of the AFT Human Rights Committee, the AFT Public Employees Program and Policy Council, an AFT benefits trustee, and a member of the AFT's Task Force on Union-Sponsored Professional Development.
Springer taught graphic arts and African American history during his 20year teaching career in New Britain, Colon., from. 1959 - 1979. Throughout that period, he held various union leadership positions, including president of the New Britain Federation of Teachers.
Springer is a member of the National Commission for African American Education, board member and chairman of the education committee of Amistad America Inc., and vice president of the John C. Rogers African American Cultural Center Inc.
Springer resides in New Britain, Conn.
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