Machinists have plenty of fight left

Machinists Union President Tom Buffenbarger, introducing Clinton, hit Obama in ... colorful ... terms, my colleague Ken Vogel reports. "Yes we can? Give me a break," he said. He also compared Obama with "Janus, the two-faced god" of Roman mythology. He called him "silver tongued" and a "thespian" and "the man in love with the microphone."

"He’s not just a trained thespian, he’s a terrific shadow boxer. You know the type. Outside the ring, he pretends he can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," he said. "But Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois state Senate. He took a walk more than 130 times. That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork, but he never steps into the ring. He walks away from the fight.”

He also drew a contrast between the “editor of the Harvard Law Review or a fighter for working families."

For all the hype before Clinton's speech, none of her attacks on Obama tonight were really new. But that sure is.

Ken reports that the union crowd noisily welcomed the attacks.


The Clintons' unions dig in for last stand

Sen. Hillary Clinton, her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on the ropes after losing Wisconsin, looked to industrial Ohio to try to make a last stand March 4 with the help of organized labor. “Tonight I want to talk to you about the choice you have in this election and why that choice matters. It is about picking a president who relies not just on words but on work—hard work,” she told an audience in an industrial town high school as she sought to intensify her direct criticism of Democratic frontrunner, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

“I am proud to be a pro-labor candidate,” she said, making no mention of the potentially crippling loss she suffered in Wisconsin, which continued Obama’s undefeated string since Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

Trailing in the national convention delegate count. Clinton finds herself with a lot of ground to make up and little time to do it. While she has already retooled her stump speech into a more populist, middle-class oriented message, her address reflected an urgency in trying to connect to working families as she continued to bash Obama's oratory skills.

Members of the crowd at Chaney High School held restyled Clinton signs that proclaimed "we've got your back."

“When I think about what we’re really comparing in this election, we can’t just have speeches. We have to have solutions,” Clinton said, again criticizing Obama as a candidate of lofty rhetoric but few results. “While words matter, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.”

Clinton noted “one of us has faced serious Republican opposition in the past and one of us is ready again.” Obama won the 2004 Senate seat in Illinois with only token Republican opposition from conservative firebrand Alan Keyes.

“Only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who needed a voice,” she said. “That’s what I would bring to the White House again.”

Also in need of a March 4 victory in Texas, where she heads tomorrow, Clinton focused headlong into vowing to rebuild the industrial Midwest.

“Some people may call this the Rust Belt, but that’s not what I see. I see some of the hardest working people in the world,” she said as she vowed new tougher standards in a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was implemented under her husband’s tenure in the White House.

Obama has hit Clinton hard over NAFTA, a particularly hot-button issue in devastated union manufacturing towns, contending that she did not listen to union complaints about job shifting across the border until late in the campaign.

“I’m not going to just talk about what’s wrong with NAFTA, I’m going to fix it,” she vowed. “My opponent has taken to attacking me on NAFTA. The fact is, neither of us were in the Senate at the time (it passed) and I’ve long been a critic of the shortcomings of NAFTA.”

Before her appearance, Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, and Gerald McEntee, the head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees tossed some red meat to warm up the audience in this industrial town, but bordered on the controversial.

Buffenbarger’s unleashed a long rant against Obama, contending he was “not just a trained thespian but a terrific shadow boxer.”

“He pretends he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Great moves. Great motivation,” Buffenbarger said. “Brothers and sisters, I’ve seen (Muhammad) Ali in action.”

He contended Obama was someone who, “as he delivers his best lines…cocks his head back” to hear “his adoring crowd.” But Buffenbarger’s attack when on so long that the audience tried to boo him off the stage so that Clinton could make her address.

Buffenbarger’s union represented the former Maytag workers in Galesburg, Ill., a refrigerator manufacturing plant that was closed by the firm and its job shifted to Mexico. He said Obama, as a Senate candidate, provided no help to keep the plant open. Buffenbarger said Obama came to Galesburg to talk to workers on a day in 2004.

“Sixteen hundred workers and their families could have used a fighter that day. They could have used someone who was willing to stand up to Maytag. They could have used more than just a good speech and they barely got that,” Buffenbarger said.

“Barack Obama stepped onto that stage knowing full well that his was simply a well rehearsed act. He sang his song. He smiled and he waved. And he left those people floating on air until it closed,” he said.

Buffenbarger recounted how a major Maytag investor, the wealthy Crown family of Chicago, was also a major donor to Obama’s campaigns.

“For Barack so loved his own performance that he made Galesburg part of his presidential stump speech. That’s right, he’s damn proud of his performance. Well I’m not. All he proved as in like Janus, the two-headed Roman god of ancient times, he can act like a friend of the working man even as he danced to the tune dedicated by millionaires,” Buffenbarger said.

McEntee spoke for only a brief time and implored the audience to consider their choices on March 4.

“You hold the fate of the Democratic Party in your hands. In fact you hold the fate of this country in your hands,” McEntee said. McEntee described Obama’s campaign as: “First it was hope, then it was change and now his latest is words. Words do matter and then he does him imitation of Deval Patrick of two years ago. Sisters and brothers, they’re starting to find out about Barack Obama and more and more will come out.”


Member-objectors will get their day in court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stepped into a dispute over a labor union's use of fees paid by nonunion employees to finance the labor organization's court battles in other states. Twenty state workers in Maine are challenging the expenditure by the labor union that bargains on their behalf. The nonmembers are required to pay a service fee for the union's collective bargaining efforts and contract administration.

The Service Employees International Union relies on portions of the fees to subsidize lawsuits concerning SEIU units other than Local 1989 to which the 20 current and former state employees belong. At issue is whether a state can condition public employment on the paying of fees for such purposes.

This case is the latest instance of the justices addressing issues that could erode the power of labor unions. Last June, the court ruled that states may force public sector labor unions to get consent from workers before using their fees for political activities.

Three months ago, the court agreed to decide the validity of a state law that limits employers' ability to weigh in on union organizing.

Union officials have no legal authority to make nonunion public servants in Maine pay for union activity across the nation, said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

The group's legal arm is representing the Maine workers and has had 14 of its cases, all targeting labor unions, heard at the Supreme Court.

The case is Locke v. Karass, state controller, 07-610.


SEIU: Hiring freeze won't save very much

When the governor of California called a Capitol press conference to announce his plan for new budget cuts for state agencies, many media outlets reported the governor had ordered a “hiring freeze.” But that’s not exactly accurate.

What the governor did do was require agency directors and department heads to “reduce the General Fund operations budgets for the agencies and departments under their control by 1.5 percent on an annualized basis for the remainder of fiscal year 2007–08.” Administration officials say a hiring freeze is a likely way for many state agencies to realize those additional savings — but not the only way.

“That term ‘freeze’ seems to suggest something that it isn’t,” said Lynelle Jolley, spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration. “It is a move we can take now to make it less likely we’ll need to resort to layoffs in the future.”

Schwarzenegger spokesman Bill Malie said governors in the past have ordered statewide hiring freezes. The most recent came in 2003, shortly after Schwarzenegger took office.

“What’s different this time is they’re leaving it in the hands of agency secretaries and department heads,” said Jolley. “But the idea is similar: They are still being stripped down to a bare minimum to run their agency or department.”

In the governor’s executive order, he made sure to include an exemption for “mission-critical activities” and to make sure the cuts do not “negatively impact public safety or public health activities.”

But beginning next month, “Cabinet secretaries are going to be reporting to the director of finance and the Cabinet secretary on a monthly basis showing what proposals are (on the table) and what progress has been made,” said Malie.

The cuts come on top of 10 percent cuts proposed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year. Schwarzenegger said he hopes the new cuts will realize an additional $100 million in savings.

While hiring may be slowed in some state agencies, it is not the only way departments are being urged to pinch pennies. Malie says departments are being urged to delay non-essential purchases and travel during the state’s budget struggles.

Malie said some cutbacks are already being made. Finance Director Mike Genest is forgoing a trip to Little Rock, Ark., for the annual Association of Budget Officers conference.

We all make sacrifices, it appears.

The governor’s announcement was met with skepticism from state employee unions.

“We think that the governor’s proclamation is long on spin and short on any details,” said Jim Hard, president of SEIU Local 1000, which represents about 94,000 state employees. “History doesn’t show that ‘hiring freezes’ are very effective. The last one saved less than $20 million.”

And, said Hard, many employees who work for the state are paid out of special funds or other pots of money. “Most positions at the EDD are federally funded, so it won’t help the state budget. There are positions in prison health care under the control of the federal courts. I don’t know how much the public would stand jobs going vacant for levee inspectors or the Highway Patrol or CalFire.”

But Jolley explained how this week’s announcement is different from those in years past. “Freezes in the past have been statewide,” she said. “The idea with past hiring freezes was to preserve vacancies so you could put people in vacant slots who would be taking layoffs. The purpose was to allow the state to absorb layoffs” without putting state workers out of a job.

But past freezes have been shown to have little effect. In fact, after Gov. Davis issued his order to stop state hiring in 2001, figures from the state controller found that state payrolls had increased by 33,000 in the two years after the freeze was announced.


DOL watchdog announces 5,000th indictment

In January 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) marked its 5,000th indictment since recordkeeping began in 1964. During January, OLMS obtained eight convictions, nine indictments and court orders of restitution totaling $121,867. The office's totals for fiscal year 2008 (which began on Oct. 1, 2007), including previously unreported indictments and convictions from prior months, now stand at 36 convictions, 47 indictments and court-ordered restitution of $877,212. The bulk of the cases involved the embezzlement of union funds.

"America's union members deserve justice, and the eight convictions this month represent a success against those who would abuse their trust," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Standards Don Todd. "Our successful prosecutions of 835 individuals and court orders of restitution for more than $103 million since 2001 demonstrate the effectiveness and importance of our work. OLMS has a long track record of success, and last month we marked our 5,000th indictment since OLMS began its records in 1964. This total includes more than 880 indictments since 2001."

OLMS is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for administering most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The agency's criminal enforcement program includes investigations of embezzlement from labor organizations, extortionate picketing, deprivation of union members' rights by force or violence, and fraud in union officer elections. The agency's civil program collects and publicly discloses unions' annual financial reports, conducts compliance audits of labor unions and seeks civil remedies for violations of officer election procedures. In certain cases, OLMS also conducts joint investigations with other Labor Department agencies, including the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Office of Inspector General, as well as other law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

OLMS's public disclosure Web page at www.unionreports.gov contains union annual financial reports and additional forms required to be filed under the LMRDA. Other information, including synopses of OLMS enforcement actions, is available on OLMS' home page at www.olms.dol.gov.


Gov. wants sales tax hike for teachers union

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver threw a curveball at the debate over a potential statewide sales tax for schools Wednesday when he said he is open to using some of the proceeds for teacher salaries. His stance is different from many of his fellow Democrats in the Legislature who think the only way to pass the 1-cent tax is to limit its use to school construction or property tax reduction.

Republican leaders have tried to kill the proposal by arguing that the money will eventually be scooped for other uses, such as teacher salaries, an idea they oppose. Culver made his comment in a speech to the Iowa State Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union. The union wants to be able to use sales tax money for salaries.

“If we can work on this in a bipartisan way and get some consensus, I’m confident we can use this as a vehicle to address a lot of different needs and that might be one of them,” Culver said in an interview with Radio Iowa after the speech.

Culver’s spokesman, Brad Anderson, said Culver was not endorsing a particular approach to the tax, but was instead expressing a willingness to look at many possible approaches.

“He’s very respectful of the legislative process,” Anderson said.

The Iowa House is considering a proposal that would implement a statewide tax to replace the county-approved version of the tax, known as the School Infrastructure Local Option tax, or SILO. The change would make the tax permanent, ending the need for local voters to re-approve it every 10 years.

Rep. Roger Wendt, D-Sioux City, the lead sponsor of the bill, said there is no way the measure will include teacher salaries.

“That can’t happen,” he said.

Wendt has worked for years to put together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans large enough to pass the bill. If teacher salaries are included, most Republicans and some Democrats would drop their support.

House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, said Culver’s comments underscore Republicans’ concerns that the state government can’t be trusted to limit the use of the money.

“This is exactly what I’ve been afraid of,” Rants said.


P.R. teachers go on strike to force respect

Puerto Rico's teachers union said Wednesday that it will go on strike after negotiators failed to overcome differences on a new contract. Union chief Rafael Feliciano said the strike will begin Thursday in a bid to win improved conditions for the U.S. Caribbean territory's 42,000 teachers.

"We are going to make them respect us," Feliciano said after a breakdown in talks with government negotiators. Talks on a contract had been stalled for two years over demands for higher pay, smaller classes and school repairs.


Union out on strike against N.Y. nursing home

Caregivers at a Bronx nursing home hit the picket line yesterday. Key among the issues raised by the health care workers - no health care. Workers at Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center at 3400 Cannon Place in the west Bronx have been working without a contract for several years, according to their union, the Service Employees International Union 1199.

But what pushed the 220 workers to walk out at 6 a.m. was their recent loss of health benefits. Late last year, just before the holidays, the Kingsbridge nursing home unilaterally ended employee health benefits, suddenly stripping the workers and their children of their health insurance.

The nursing home is $2.5 million in arrears to the workers' health benefit fund, and as a result, workers and their families lost their health care coverage completely last November.

The union says the facility's owner, Helen Sieger, has refused to negotiate in good faith to resolve the dispute, thus forcing the strike.

Management of the Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center did not return calls.

The 350-bed nursing home is run as a for-profit facility, and has been ranked among the city's most profitable nursing homes.

Health Department figures show that in 1999, Kingsbridge made more than $3 million in profits - with Sieger pocketing $700,000 of that in salary.

The following year, the Daily News toured the facility in the middle of the night and found just two or three nurses' aides watching over as many as 40 patients.

Overstretched staffing was cited as a factor in the suicide of a patient who leapt from his seventh-floor window in 2002.

Police said the man had a history of depression, but officials at Kingsbridge said he was not on a suicide watch.

At the time, nurses' aides complained of being so understaffed they didn't have time to properly care for patients.

The last time the workers there had a contract was 2000, the year The News investigation cited aides' complaints that due to short-staffing some patients lost weight because staffers didn't have adequate time to monitor their food intake.

The probe also revealed patients were reportedly left in soiled diapers for long periods because there were not enough staff members available to change them.


Did striking Writers Guild really win?

After one hundred days and a half a season of vapid, boring television, the writers' strike is over. This is a time to celebrate. The late-night shows were the first to make on-air use of new newly emboldened writers. On the Colbert Report, Stephen (who only pretends at being vapid) even pulled a rare move by honoring someone other than himself and admitting he relied on his writers. It was a glorious celebration, leaving one to think the strike was an unmitigated success for the wordsmiths.

The truth, however, is a bit more complicated, and buried in the subtext.

The strike started over a dispute about digital revenue. The writers wanted a slice, and the networks refused with the absurd excuse that because they don't know exactly how much money can be made off the Internet, the networks cannot offer Writer's Guild of America (WGA) members anything. That's a bit like the networks saying they won't pay the writers of a particular new show anything until they know how much revenue the show will take in. And even after profits are tallied, the writers aren't guaranteed their share. It's a good thing more workplaces don't apply this policy--it's blatantly unfair.

What writers won

On February 12 the WGA East negotiating committee struck a tentative deal with the networks that has since been ratified by the guild's general membership. The deal gives writers a chunk of Internet revenue.

For the first two years of the contract, writers will receive a maximum flat fee of $1,200 for "new media" content. After two years, the writers will receive checks for 2 percent of gross profits. This is a pretty good win for the WGA, and an improvement on the dismal gains made during the 1988 strike for cable syndication profit sharing.

What writers lost

What did the writers lose? First, their revenue gains were de-clawed. The agreement includes the provision that writers will receive no online money from advertising for the first 17 to 20 days--you know, when most people will download a popular show.

The writers also lost another battle. Wanting to make their influence more powerful, the WGA tried to get writers for animated television and reality TV unionized. But they gave that demand up, making it harder for a more effective strike down the road.

Because of the strike, networks were legally able to drop a lot of new show development deals with writers. These are comparatively high-income jobs that WGA members will now have to find again.

So there are not only more writers, but because of reality TV's strike-driven surge, there is less scripted television. You don't need to be an economics major to spot the consequences.

Some of these extra reality shows will defiantly garner good ratings, until their inevitable Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-like fall from grace. And that could take two or three seasons. It's a little like a squirrelly man (or woman) going up against a mammoth athlete in a series of feats of strength.

Sure, the muscled wonder will probably be dumb, but their stature alone makes up for their uninspired intellect. Basically, writers are now contestants against the American Gladiators of reality TV, trying to claim the grand prize of work.

So no one really "won" the strike. That is, except the viewer, who will see the sometimes-belated return of their favorite shows. Or maybe not.

NBC's Friday Night Lights is reportedly in trouble, a clear loss for the viewer. And Bionic Woman won't be back, a clear win for the viewer. Here is a rundown on the tentative return of some shows.

Shows returning this spring:

30 Rock
My Name is Earl
CSI (all possible varieties)
Grey's Anatomy
Ugly Betty
The Office

Shows returning this fall, or at some point after:

Big Love
Pushing Daisies


Teachers union officials tortured

A group of 9 officials from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) are receiving treatment at the Avenues Clinic after they were severely assaulted by ruling party supporters at ZANU-PF offices on Tuesday. Oswald Madziva, the PTUZ National Coordinator, said the group was at the Fourth Street bus terminus distributing flyers asking “the authorities to act on the collapse of the education system.” They were approached by rank marshals who said they didn’t have permission to do this.

ZANU-PF has offices on Fourth Street close to the bus terminus and the rank marshals in the area are believed to be youth militia members and ruling party supporters. They forced the group to march to the ZANU-PF offices, supposedly to verify that they were indeed teachers. The Fourth Street offices are notorious for their use by ZANU-PF as a torture centre.

Madziva said they were led into a hall in the building. A mob of ruling party supporters who had been hanging out in the yard was brought in and the physical attack began. The PTUZ coordinator said they were punched and slapped, and assaulted with iron bars, logs and pieces of furniture.

Madziva said the attack was brutal. He described how one of the ZANU-PF thugs picked up a desk and threw it at Secretary General Majongwe, who used his hands to block it. Bottles were thrown at them as well.

Among those assaulted was the PTUZ President Takavafirei Zhou and Secretary General Raymond Majongwe. With them was Linda Fumhunda, Harrison Mudzuri, Bernard Shoko, Charles Mbwandarika and Ladistos Zunda.

According to Madziva, there was a lot of verbal abuse hurled at them during the attack. He said he does not remember much but he recalls being accused of fighting against the government, “de-campaigning” ZANU-PF and supporting the MDC. The thugs also told them to join the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), which is a government creation.

Madziva said riot police arrived about 3 hours later and took them to Harare Central Station where their statements were recorded. But the ZANU-PF thugs who attacked them were not dealt with at all.

The PTUZ officials were released without charge and went to Harare Central Hospital for treatment. But Madziva said the doctors there refused to provide them with any medical assistance. They ended up at the Avenues Clinic, a private hospital that has been treating victims of political torture for years.

Majongwe, Zhou and many PTUZ officials have been arrested on several occasions as government continues to carry out a campaign against teachers. The union’s members are currently on strike demanding better salaries and working conditions. They have vowed not to return to work until their demands are met.


Stealthy unions refuse to back down

Allies of Hillary Clinton plan an expensive, stealth campaign to buttress her standing in the must-win states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. They're canvassing Clinton donors for pledges of up to $100,000 in the hope of raising at least $10M by the end of next week. The money will be placed in the account of a political committee organized under section 527 of the tax code.

A Democrat who was briefed on the project said that Pennsylvania attorney William A. K. Titelman is leading the effort to solicit money. Titleman, who raised money for Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign, has not contributed money to Clinton. He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

By law, the 527 cannot coordinate its activities with the Clinton campaign, although at least one major Clinton donor with direct ties to the campaign said last night that the effort was an open secret among donors.

(Update: Per ABC's Jake Tapper, the group is calling itself the "American Leadership Project" and is staffed by several veterans of the Clinton White House.)

A Clinton spokesman said he knew nothing about the 527.

Two Democrats said that the 527 plans to run television ads and send pro-Clinton literature in all three states. One of the Democrats said that the ads will also include contrast messages against Obama.

Plans for the 527 were conceived in late January, when Clinton's campaign was nearly broke. Since Feb. 5, she has raised nearly $20M, but still faces a resource disadvantage. Obama's aides said they're approaching their goal of raising money from 500,000 new donors since Jan. 1 and project a total haul of more than $35M for February.

Perhaps as early as today, a consortium of Service Employees union locals will disclose its own plans for mobilization in Ohio and Pennsylvania on behalf of Barack Obama, an irony that will not be lost on those covering the race closely: a similar SEIU compact in Iowa ran ads praising John Edwards and drew strong protests from Obama's campaign.


Union official pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former employee for a Dothan, Alabama based postal union pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $11,000 of the union's money. Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, said in a statement that 35-year-old Bridgett Cardall Hooks of Dothan entered the plea at a hearing yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel.

Canary said Hooks admitted she stole the money from the American Postal Union Local 332's while she served as the union's secretary-treasurer. The thefts occurred between October 2005 and December 2006.

Hooks faces up to five years in prison for her offense. She will be sentenced on May 16th by Chief Federal Judge Mark Fuller in Montgomery federal court.


Striking teachers declared enemies of the state

Zimbabwean teachers are increasingly being accused of whipping up hatred for President Robert Mugabe's regime, with government branding them enemies of the state. Authorities say their five-week strike in protest at poor remuneration caused by the regime's mismanagement is an opposition ploy to catalyse public anger against Mugabe.

Surrounded by pictures drawn by his pupils and wearing a bright cardigan, the deputy head teacher of a Harare primary school seems an unlikely enemy of the state.

But across Zimbabwe teachers are finding themselves the target of intimidation as the ruling Zanu (PF) party fights to cling to power. Newspapers have carried regular reports of teachers being beaten and threatened by activists who accuse them of encouraging support for the main opposition party, the MDC.

One secondary school teacher from Madziwa, north-east of Harare, told how 60 youths wearing Zanu (PF) t-shirts had beaten him with iron bars and whips. At least two other schools in Mashonaland suspended classes after raids by Zanu (PF) thugs.

The teachers' traditional position as polling agents during elections and educators of the disaffected young explains why Mugabe sees them as a threat.

The Mugabe government has sponsored a pliable teachers union to rally support for him, but many teachers would rather be aligned to the independent Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, headed by activist Raymond Majongwe.

Less threatening, but equally potent, are attempts to man the polling stations with Zanu (PF) sympathisers. The ruling party is doing everything in its power to create an atmosphere of fear.

A rural teacher said: "The majority of people - 99 per cent - are angry with the government. They have had enough of the corruption and the stealing, but the officials will do anything to keep their privileges.

"The teachers are not political. I have no card belonging to a political party. As teachers we only have an obligation to the truth and our students."


Union embezzlement termed 'borrowing'

The two women who used San Gabriel (CA) school teachers' union funds for personal trips, meals and shopping were thick as thieves, officials say. Former Jefferson Middle School special education teachers Ava Shaw, 52, of Pasadena, and Jennifer Kathryn Boyd-Oliver, 36, of Duarte, pleaded no contest Friday to charges in the case. Both have been ordered to pay restitution.

Shaw was president and treasurer of the San Gabriel Teachers Association and Boyd was secretary. "Shaw vacationed a lot with Jennifer Boyd," said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Donna Hollingsworth, who added that Shaw "footed the bill" for trips the two took to St. Thomas, Lake Tahoe and New York.

"They were at the same place together pretty much at all times," Hollingsworth said.

Shaw was charged with embezzling as much as $83,000 between June 2001 and September 2004 and faces prison time. She made an agreement with the judge that she would not be sentenced until after a March 25 restitution hearing.

Her teaching credential has been revoked, and she was terminated by the district after more than seven years as a teacher at Jefferson. Boyd accepted a plea bargain from the District Attorney's Office in which she was required to plead no contest to grand theft, which is a felony, Hollingsworth noted. The court agreed to reduce the sentence to a misdemeanor since Boyd paid back the $1,925 she pocketed.

She was placed on three years probation and is required to do 45 days of Caltrans work, Hollingsworth added.

Because of the reduced charge, Boyd's credential was merely suspended, leaving her with the option of teaching again. She had spent six years as a teacher at Jefferson and one year at Wilson Elementary School. She resigned in June of 2006, just two months after her arrest. Susan Naeves, assistant superintendent for human resources at San Gabriel Unified, said both Shaw and Boyd had received satisfactory evaluations while they were employed at the district.

Hollingsworth said the bylaws of the union gave Shaw "ultimate power over the check writing," one which she abused by using the association's funds to pay off personal debt.

"It looked like she was just borrowing Peter to pay Paul," she said. "She became accustomed to a certain lifestyle. ... It looked like she had a serious spending problem."

In addition, Shaw was charging trips to the hair salon, artwork purchased in the Caribbean, and meals at expensive restaurants to the union's American Express credit card - a credit card that no one knew existed, district officials said.

Calls to both Shaw's and Boyd's attorneys were not returned Wednesday afternoon.


Yes we can? Give me a break.

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