By William Gjebre, Florida Bulldog.org
An embattled union representing the lowest-paid Miami-Dade public schools employees is facing new problems that include a $210,000 budget deficit, possibly driven by compensation paid to a handful of top union officials.
The shortfall at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1184 is a huge hole in a budget that in past years has typically ranged from $200,000 to $250,000 – funding primarily collected from union dues.
The large deficit was disclosed in an audit by AFSCME international headquarters in Washington, D.C. that’s dated May 2, yet only made public this month.
A former union official who ran for president of the local said the suppression of the audit could have cost him the May 18 election.
“Why did the international allow someone to run for office with a $200,000 deficit?” said Terry Haynes, a former union vice president who was defeated by incumbent Local 1184 president Vicki Hall.
Aside from the union’s budget issues, Haynes said, there was a lack of disclosure of information by Local 1184 regarding union finances as well as failure by the union to obtain approvals of the full executive board. Increased expenditures in light of the union’s precarious financial problems are not justified, Haynes added.
Hall, Local 1184 president since May 2015, did not respond to an email and phone calls for comment on the audit and related issues. Jeffrey Taggart, director of accounting and auditing, AFSCME international in Washington, whose office conducted the audit under his signature, also did not respond to a request for comment. Andy Madtes, executive director of Florida Council 979, which oversees AFSCME locals in the state, maintained that the audit is a matter between the international and Local 1184 and does not fall under the council’s purview.
AFSCME international “does not comment on an internal issue,” said Mark McCullough, a spokesperson for both the international and Local 1184. He would not discuss what measures have been taken by Local 1184 to address the financial and other issues referenced in the audit.
‘A deficit of $210,667’
“The 2016 and 2017 annual budgets approved by the Executive Board do not provide the net income/net loss,” the audit stated. “Total budgeted income for 2017 less the total budgeted expenditures for 2017 results in a deficit of $210,667. Additionally, the expenditures on the annual budgets do not total correctly.”
Audit information, as well as an apparent union tentative budget document for 2017, provides some answers to the funding imbalance.
“The 2016 budget for payroll was $121,620 and the 2017 budget payroll is $146,820,” the audit stated. Those numbers, however, appear to be far less than the actual union payrolls for 2016 and apparently for 2017.
The audit stated that Hall’s total compensation and payments for 2016, funded by union dues, were $116,572, including $50,915 in union salary (called “allowance”) and another $10,276 in reimbursements; $43,443 from her district annual salary as a bus driver, and $11,938 for fringe benefits, unused sick time and vacation pay. The union’s agreement with the Miami-Dade public schools system calls for the union to reimburse the district for Hall’s district salary and other benefits so she can do union business.
During 2016, Haynes, at the union’s request, was also on full-time release from his district job as a custodian, and his total compensation and payments were $68,944, including $44,373 from his district salary and another $12,958 for fringe benefits, unused sick and vacation time; $11,150 in his union salary, and another $463 in union reimbursements.
In addition to the $185,516 in compensation for Hall and Haynes, the union in 2016 paid allowances to 12 other union officials for about $50,000 — or a grand total of $235,516.
Local 1184’s budget totals for 2017 were not identified in the audit. But Haynes provided a document he said was a working tentative union budget for this year that showed the union’s income from dues, normally the main funding source, would amount to only $159,523 for the year. Haynes said that as far as he can recall the 2017 union payroll was not reduced from the previous year.
A drop in membership dues coming?
The tentative budget document Haynes provided projected that Local 1184 would collect a total of $974,590 in dues for the 2017 budget. Most of that is sent up to the Florida Council and AFSCME international. Local 1184’s $159,523 share of the total is 16.4 percent of the total.
In the last reports to the state of Florida regarding yearly dues from members, Local 1184 stated it collected $1.128 million in 2015 and $1.182 million in 2013. This indicates Local 1184 is facing a drop in membership dues for 2017.
The audit report was also critical of Local 1184 in other areas, noting that certain cash allowances and increases for officers were not approved by the membership and that the local bought 14 new cellphones for its executive board members at a price that was higher than what had been approved.
The issue of union finances is the latest controversy surrounding the union. Haynes had criticized Hall for failing to challenge the school system when the School Board approved two contracts totaling $1.8 million outsourcing lawn service work usually done by union employees.
Haynes also was critical after it was learned that the school district gave Hall a $16,000 pay hike, raising her base annual salary to $42,000 from $26,000, two months before the November 2015 outsourcing contract was approved.
Controversy continued at the end of the May 18th union election when member votes were being counted. Haynes said his unofficial count had him leading when an election committee official left the area and returned with papers in hand. Shortly afterward, he said, Hall was declared the winner. “They stole the election,” he said.
Haynes contested the election, but AFSCME international denied it saying he filed the appeal too late.
Haynes said he believes that the international, despite its claim of opposing outsourcing, did not support his call for a new election because “they want her [Hall] there” rather than someone like himself who speaks up about problems.