United Teachers of Dade Political Misadventures and Contractual Follies

Fed and EW

Fed Ingram (left) and Enid Weisman.

United Teachers of Dade: Do as We Say, Not as We Do!

The picture, Fed Ingram’s “cuddle and huddle” with Enid Weisman, M-DCPS Chief Human Capital Officer and Mayor of Aventura, sums it all up as to where the loyalties of Fed Ingram and United Teachers of Dade (UTD) seem to lie: with M-DCPS, not the members.

As I was always told by UTD leadership concerning my exposure of misdeeds by M-DCPS, be mindful of “the integrity of the school district.” UTD seems more mindful of their integrity and not that of the dues paying membership given questionable expenditures of dues money and the recent disgraceful contract ratification.

For the potential detrimental impact of the new contract in terms of salaries, check out the reasonable analysis that a member produced along with a study that concluded that teacher pay in South Florida is among the worst in the U.S.

Teachers were given a 1% stipend that was less than 1% and a supposedly 2% raise that was less than 2%, it seems to make sense.

On top of this, UTD spent $250,000 on losing candidates during the 2014 elections and has launched a lawsuit against the Mayor of Miami-Dade County that seems to lack merit while politically promoting Fed Ingram and Karla Hernandez-Mats at the expense of the membership.

Additionally, UTD is estimated to have spent an estimated of over $300,000 and counting in the ongoing lawsuit brought forth by Geno Perez concerning electoral fraud in the 2010 UTD elections.

Besides Fed and Karla, UTD attorney Mark Richards seems to be the big winner.

As quoted in a Miami Herald article, “This is a scandal that’s falling on the backs of fourth graders,” said Mark Richard, an attorney representing UTD.

How quickly he, and UTD leadership, forgot about, and was silent on, Adobegate at Miami Norland Senior High School, a cheating scandal that netted the faculty almost $250,000- a scandal on the backs of high school students during the 2011-12 school year.

They did not speak out on their member’s behalf whatsoever.

As other county entities request and allocate money for the Value Appeal Board, it is not the mayor’s fault that the VAB is underfunded and understaffed.

Mike Hernández, Mayor Gimenez’s communications director, said the County Commission doesn’t deserve the blame. He said the clerk of courts and property appraiser request funding for the appeal board, and that the county hasn’t denied any funding requests in recent years.

“It’s unfortunate that a life-long educator like the president of the United Teachers of Dade doesn’t understand civics,” Hernández said.

 It’s not like Mr. Ingram does not understand, he does I am sure, but the larger aim was to assist his campaign to lead the Florida Education Association and to put Ms. Hernandez-Mats in charge of UTD as Mr. Beightol explains.

 UTD blames the county mayor and the lack of property tax dollars for the contract that resulted. Their reasoning seems disingenuous as the Miami-Dade County School Board sets the millage rates and has reduced them over the past years without UTD objection.

 Beckons the questions, why was UTD silent then and why not sue the School Board instead?

 Moreover, why isn’t the School Board of Miami-Dade County suing those responsible? Why is the UTD membership footing the bill?

 It appears the Republican-led School Board did not want to sue the Republican-led County Commission, so the school district administration put UTD up to doing their dirty work and UTD happily obliged.

 As UTD does not directly receive property tax dollars, the suit may be dismissed as the union lacks standing.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Hernandez-Mats is listed as a plaintiff as a teacher with children in the school system. She is coded as a teacher, but in reality she is a teacher on special assignment (TSA) and not in the classroom whatsoever as she works out of the UTD building- hence giving credence to politically propping her up as Mr. Beightol asserts.

Should M-DCPS and/or UTD be successful, do not count on the teachers to receive these funds as some other excuse will necessitate the funding being needed elsewhere- lack of funding from the Legislature, health care costs, etc.

Therefore, a few (school district administrators, UTD leadership, and Mark Richards) will benefit on the backs of the many (UTD membership) with the many footing the bill.

Former UTD Executive Board member and retired teacher Ira Paul, who had to leave the union to sue UTD along with M-DCPS, says, “I am not anti-union, I am anti-UTD because they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.”

It is a sentiment shared by many as evidenced by a decline in membership and what I am hearing from members about lack of representation and questionable contracts.

Police and firefighter unions have high membership whereas UTD has a membership of less than 50% of the bargaining unit, especially less than 50% of M-DCPS teachers are union members.

Then again, police and firefighter unions negotiate better contracts and gain better benefits for their members and represent them extraordinarily well as evidenced by recent controversies.

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