Michigan teachers union exposed

Welcome to MEAexposed.com, a website dedicated to showing the hypocrisy and self-interest of Michigan's largest school employees union.

Their mission has little--if anything--to do with education quality and more to do with promoting its health care plan, protecting the worst, and suppressing meaningful reform. We are exposing the financials and personnel of the MEA union in order to show how and why they block educational reform in our state.

All information contained on this site was obtained from federal Department of Labor filings, court documents, public websites, or contacts within the MEA and MESSA. This site is intended to be a clearinghouse for those difficult-to-find documents to show a complete picture of the MEA.

Last year, the MEA was paid over $4.7 MILLION in "marketing" fees by its insurance affiliate, MESSA. The insurance over which union bosses force school boards to pay a heavy price just for considering alternatives.

The MEA paid a law firm $281,913 that defended a convicted child-molesting teacher. They should own up to their hard-working dues payers whether or not their dues money went to defend such behavior. If it is true, we challenge the good hard-working teachers to think of it this way: $3.15 of your dues went to defend a child molester. Sure it may just be a cup of Starbucks coffee, but when the MEA attempts to explain what you get for your dues, remember this one. Check out the FAQ page to see what you can do about it.

This is a project of the Education Action Group, a non-profit organization advocating ways schools can reform spending. Feel free to let us know your thoughts or to correct any factually inaccurate information. Drop us a line at info at edactiongroup dot org.

This site is a work in progress and will be frequently updated with new information. Check back often.


Violence erupts in SEIU-CNA nation-wide fight

A nasty fight erupted at L.A. County hospitals today when organizers for the California Nurses Assn. launched a campaign to persuade 6,000 county-employed nurses to ditch the Service Employees International Union, the powerful organization that represents them, and join the CNA instead, Garrett Therolf reports.

Police arrested a CNA organizer accused of slapping an SEIU organizer and of stomping on the foot of another. A county official who asked for anonymity claimed CNA organizers dressed up as nurses so they could get into areas of the hospital normally off limits.

"The nurses are leaving SEIU and coming to CNA. That is a fact," said Jill Furillo, CNA's Southern California director. "Los Angeles County hospitals are the most horrendous and horrible facilities. The patients and nurses have been suffering in those places."

That's news to Elizabeth Brennan, a spokeswoman for SEIU Local 721.

"There is no question that the nurses will continue to be represented by SEIU," Brennan said. "Nurses won a record raise last year because they are united as an entire healthcare team with other Los Angeles County employees and other healthcare workers -- and that helps improve the quality of healthcare in the county."

Furillo said, "A real war is going to happen."

Last month, the CNA organized the only private hospital in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports. Its attempt to move into other Texas hospitals, where nurses already have union representation, mirrors the fight now brewing in LA County. Similar scenarios are playing out in Nevada and Ohio.


Unfair share in Maine

Welcome to www.unfairshare.org. This web site is available as a reference and organizing point for all Maine state employees interested in retaining their freedom to choose where their money is spent and what types of activities they want to support.

The Maine State Employee Association (MSEA) quietly provided language in the 2005 contract requiring employees to pay a "service fee" to the union to support their bargaining and representation "services". Employees who do not pay the fee can and will be fired. Imagine that! Fired for not paying for something you don't believe in, despite being an otherwise hard-working employee. Employees hired after Jan 1 2003 have already been subject to "Fair Share", and starting July 1 2005 the fees were passed on to almost all employees (many managers of course being exempt).

unfairshare.org is a grass-roots organization composed entirely of volunteer state employees, many of whom are MSEA members who think the union has lost its way, all of us committed to fighting "Fair Share".

Many state employees are strongly against this initiative for numerous reasons. Some object based on religious beliefs, others based on freedom of choice. Whatever the reason, we hope this web site can help you in our fight against what we believe is, fundamentally, "Unfair Share".

Update February 19 2008:

The US Supreme Court today agreed to hear the Maine "Fair Share" case. Oral arguments will be heard this Fall. You can read more about it in the NRTW announcement.

How Can You Help?

* Become informed! Join our Mailing List to receive updates on our fight against "Fair Share".
* Spread the word - tell everyone about this issue and this website.
* Donate to unfairshare.org to help defray costs. Learn more here.


Card-check union organizing: A power grab

AFL-CIO officials John Sweeney and James Leaman hid the true nature of "card-check" union organizing and instead shilled for their No. 1 legislative priority, the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" ["Yes: Without labor unions, who speaks for the worker?" Viewpoints, March 30]. But this compulsory unionism power grab would unleash a new epidemic of union intimidation directed at workers who do not want to form a union.

In reality, the bill would allow union organizers to bypass secret-ballot elections in favor of card-check drives to unionize workplaces across America.

Rather than vote in private, card-check campaigns force employees to publicly declare whether they support unionization, throwing the door open to rampant union bullying.

The National Right to Work Foundation is helping employees nationwide defend their rights during these coercive unionization drives.

Card-check organizing campaigns already occur today, but if Big Labor's bill passes, they would become the law of the land.

Employees are telling their stories of union harassment to anyone who will listen. Since union organizers are known to use heavy-handed tactics where they fail to persuade, it is no surprise that a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll found that 79 percent of Americans oppose making coercive "card check" the law of the land.

Justin Hakes, Springfield, VA

- The writer is legal information director for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.


Gov't-union critics slain, police seek motive

The day he and his wife were found slain in their Pleasanton home, Ernie Scherer had a date to meet with the Contra Costa district attorney's office. Just as he had campaigned against previous school tax efforts, Scherer, a relentless critic of the San Ramon Valley school board, hoped to topple the district's bid to extend an existing parcel tax with a June ballot measure. He had reams of documents that he spent hundreds of hours collecting to try to prove that the district manipulated numbers to pass the tax in 2004.

School leaders say that Scherer had an ax to grind, that he never got over being recalled from the board 18 years ago. His political allies say he was just a diehard about his views.

Intense but endearing to friends, vindictive and hawkish to adversaries — that is how Ernie Scherer, 60, has been described. The question for investigators is who had reason to kill him and his wife, Charlene Abendroth, 57.

"We don't believe it was a robbery, burglary or a random act," said lead investigator Sgt. Scott Dudek of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. Whoever killed the couple, whose savagely beaten bodies were found March 14 in their pajamas near the front of their Castlewood Country Club home, probably had a connection to them, he said.

Several motives have been eliminated, but investigators do not yet have a single, solid motive, Dudek said. Last week, he confirmed that investigators had searched the Brea home of the couple's only son, professional poker player Ernie Scherer III, 29. Dudek would not comment on whether the son is a suspect or if police have served warrants on other sites.

"Some of his business associates have been eliminated, some family members," said Dudek, adding that workers at the couple's home also have been ruled out as suspects.

Because of Scherer's feud with the district, investigators are speaking with school officials, Dudek said. Detectives expect to finish those interviews this week.

By all accounts, Abendroth, who taught accounting and finance at Cal State East Bay, was the quieter of the two. Her husband, a conservative bulldog, came on strong about his political causes and never loosened his grip.

San Ramon Valley schools spokesman Terry Koehne said that Scherer's fierce assaults on district tax campaigns stood out.

"For some (opponents), it's an anti-tax platform. For Ernie, it was more personal," he said.

Scherer argued that the district's tax measures — backed by the teachers union and defended by school leaders as needed to offset state budget cuts — were a ruse to raise teacher wages.

Voters ousted Scherer in 1990, in part because he refused to back down in negotiations with the union when teachers went on strike.

San Ramon mayor and Assembly candidate H. Abram Wilson, a friend, dismissed the idea that Scherer's political campaigns were personal. Before he died, Scherer had been gearing up to help Wilson win the Republican nomination in the June primary election. He donated $1,000 to his campaign, Wilson said.

"The thing about Ernie is that he believed he was right," Wilson said. "He used to always say, 'Numbers don't lie.' That was Ernie — always dotting the I's and crossing the T's."

He likened him to Adrian Monk, the compulsion-prone but brilliant TV detective.

Scherer brought to the card table the same fervor he applied to political crusades, said former San Ramon mayor and longtime friend Hermann Welm. Scherer, who made his living buying and selling real estate, also was a poker virtuoso who dabbled on the professional circuit. Welm said he invited Scherer to join his monthly poker game a decade ago.

"He brought intensity to the game that we weren't quite used to, (but) he was just a fun guy to have around the table. He loosened up after awhile," Welm said. "He was very analytical and understood the game perfectly."

Last year, Scherer brought to the Contra Costa County grand jury allegations that the school district underestimated its income to gain voter support for the 2004 parcel tax. The jury would not comment on what, if any, action was taken, and no mention was made in the jury's yearly report.

School officials maintain that the group met briefly with the district, was satisfied and dropped the matter.

The planned March 14 meeting with Deputy District Attorney Steve Bolen was the latest attempt by Scherer and other school board critics to discredit the district.

Mike Arata, an anti-school tax advocate from Danville and a fellow district critic, also was supposed to attend the meeting. When no one could reach Scherer, the meeting was canceled, he said.

Arata said they planned to raise a number of issues, including allegations that the district illegally used public funds to campaign for the 2004 parcel tax. One of Scherer's goal was to discredit longtime school board member and aspiring state Assembly candidate Joan Buchanan, Arata said.

"He saw the teachers union as her base of support and wanted to see that in the ballot argument (against the parcel tax)," Arata said.

Buchanan is favored to win the Democratic nomination, which would likely have her running against Wilson.

Buchanan said she was not aware that Scherer planned to attack her during this year's election, though he said he would fight the parcel tax.

"It came to be expected that anything he said would be against the district," Buchanan said.

In a December e-mail to the Times, Scherer accused Buchanan of being complicit in district misrepresentation of its finances. He compared the alleged wrongdoings to that of Enron executives.

Buchanan, elected to the school board in 1990 after Scherer was ousted, says he "never got over the recall."

"Think about it — he was still opposing the (parcel tax) when he didn't live in the district" any more, she said.

As a trustee, Scherer "did not work well at building relationships," especially with the teachers' union, she said.

Scherer did not take the recall well. According to the Times' archives, one organizer argued that Scherer tried to run him over with his car when he tried to serve him with recall papers. Scherer denied it, and the matter was dropped by police.

When the new board was elected, Scherer told reporters that the district was going "right down the drain." He yanked his son out of the district and enrolled him in private school.

Scherer friends say his passions were misunderstood.

"Ernie wanted to make people accountable for their actions, and when you do that, it makes people nervous and upset," Wilson said.

Tom Campbell, a former Republican congressman and now dean of UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, got to know Scherer and Abendroth on a recent trip to Antarctica.

Scherer reminded Campbell that he had worked on his campaign years earlier. "He cared deeply about what was happening to the country, the economy particularly," said Campbell, who described Abendroth as quieter than Scherer as well as charming and kind.

Before he died, Scherer had been helping Stockton resident Dean Andal in his bid for Congress. Earlier this year, he donated $1,275 to then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, campaign records show.

Scherer was a family man who was "very proud of his children," Wilson said.

He was, in a word, "intense," Wilson said. "But a great loyal friend if he let you into his world."


Dem Gov. strongarms worker-choice advocate

The little sit-downs with Jonathan Coors just aren't working. Gov. Bill Ritter, Denver Metro Chamber President Joe Blake and other civic business leaders have tried to get the 28-year-old political upstart to drop his campaign for a right-to-work initiative on the November ballot.

The initiative tampers with the Labor Peace Act, which has served the state well since 1943, they say. Only 8 percent of Colorado workers belong to unions, and most work for the government. A political dogfight over unions will do more damage than good.

"What's best for Colorado," Blake said, "is to leave it alone."

Coors responded by delivering 133,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office this week. See, that's the thing about initiatives. They don't really need approval from the governor. Anyone with this many signatures can pretty much tell the governor to get bent.

And it's fun getting dragged into the governor's office and then telling the guv, at least symbolically, to get bent. Especially when the guv is a Democrat, and you are a Republican.

The right-to-work initiative is a response to the pro-union measure the predominantly Democratic state legislature rammed through last year.

The governor vetoed that legislation but later signed a pro-union executive order that outraged GOP folks even more. See, if you are a Republican, anything that helps the unions is bad. That's because unions predominantly back Democrats with campaign donations.

This political strategy has little to do with what is actually good for the Colorado business climate or what is good for employees. It's mostly just brass-knuckle politics and a lot of spin — and we've seen plenty of this from both sides.

The AFL-CIO and United Food and Commercial Workers say they are backing seven ballot initiatives. Although no petitions for these measures have been circulated yet, it's not likely these folks are going to back off either.

"We're moving forward with the two initiatives we support," said Mike Cerbo, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. "They are polling well."

One would require employers to have "just cause" for firing employees. The other would make it easier for the state to go after corporate executives for fraud.

Not exactly earth-shattering changes. People will still get fired, but they'll be offered a better explanation. And corporate ne'er-do- wells will just have to pay a little more for their lawyers.

Similarly, if Colorado changed to a right-to-work state, few people would sense any difference.

Employees could not be forced to join unions or pay union dues as a condition of employment, but I don't know many people who've been forced to join unions against their wills in this state.

The right-to-work issue is simply a GOP shot across the bow of Democrats and unions, who suddenly have more power. Coors has been in front, but there are other key players who have yet to show their faces.

"It's hard to say who is behind it," Cerbo said. "We strongly suspect out-of-state interests."

How does anybody sign a ballot petition without knowing who is really behind it?

It would be nice if all the people responsible would step out of the shadows. I mean, if you are not going away, at least say hello.


Labor-state corrals dues for anti-choice fight

Nearly two-thirds of Colorado's 32,000 state employees could be unionized by the end of May as labor organizers make an aggressive push to take advantage of an executive order by Gov. Bill Ritter. It's unknown what effect the growing organization of workers could have on state government, but union proponents told The Gazette they hope to improve health benefits and pay.

The Nov. 2 executive order divides state workers into eight occupational groups representing areas such as financial services, health care services and professional services.

If 30 percent of the workers in any group sign petitions seeking an election, it allows them to vote on allowing one union to represent them in creating an "employee partnership agreement" with the state.

The group representing 709 Colorado State Patrol employees voted overwhelmingly last month to be represented by the Association of Colorado State Patrol Professionals.

Five of the other seven organization groups have submitted enough signatures to hold an election, which could be held by the end of April.

Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, who has complained that unionized employees would demand greater compensation and strain the state's budget, was not surprised after what he called an aggressive push by union leaders.

Colorado WINS, a coalition of the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was formed to unionize all state workers.

Employees from several state departments who are collecting signatures said they have generally rallied co-workers to the cause by convincing them it will give them a bigger say in government.

"Personally, I want a voice. I feel like we have a lot to offer management," said Pat Kriebel, a program assistant in the Division of Child Care. "And sometimes what happens is the word from the front lines doesn't get up to the higher echelon."

Beyond a voice, though, workers cited the need for better pay and benefits.

Colorado is 49th in the country in employer contribution to state workers' individual health coverage. Water resources engineer Craig Lis said every married worker in his office uses their spouses' employers' insurance plan.

Meanwhile, state patrol Sgt. Mark Holt said salaries haven't kept pace with the living expenses for everyone in government during the past eight years.

Talk of increasing pay comes less than a month after economists predicted the state was headed into a downturn, and increasing employees' pay could lead to decreasing services, opponents said.

Kriebel and Sally Yerger, a civil rights division investigator, argued the state would not have to cut programs or increase taxes to raise salaries. It could work with employees to come up with ways to be more efficient and use those savings for acrossthe-board raises or bonuses to workers who save taxpayer money, Kriebel said.

Plus, turnover among state employees was 12.3 percent in 2006. Yerger, who said nine of the 12 investigators in her division have left during the past four years, argued that if the state can listen to employees and keep more from leaving, it would reduce hiring and training costs enormously.

"If you are looking at demoralized employees and tremendous turnover, that is costing you more than giving raises to employees," she said.

Ritter's order does not give binding arbitration to workers.

Ben DeGrow, a policy analyst with the conservative Independence Institute, argued, however, that permitting partnerships opens the door to further allowances, including binding arbitration.

Putting a layer of bureaucracy between employees and their managers also could serve to remove workers one step further from the taxpayers who are supposed to be their bosses, said Bob Culwell, a supervisor in the state Treasurer's Office who opposes unionization.

Culwell called the push heavy-handed - he said he knows of state workers who have gotten visited at home by union representatives - and the campaigning has been done by union organizers rather than employees.

"I believe it's in the realm of absolute metaphysical certitude that it could hurt taxpayers if this happens," Culwell said. "The union, by definition, would be standing between them and would be operating in the interests of its members and, therefore, to the non-benefits of citizens."

Unions outside the Colorado WINS pact question the coming elections, too.

The Teamsters, for example, began talking with corrections officers and employees at the Colorado Mental Health Institute more than three years ago, hoping to get a bill passed this year to allow collective bargaining with binding arbitration for the groups.

But Teamsters Local Union 455 was never asked for its input in creating what political director Ted Textor called the "topdown imposition of this whacko partnership agreement," and now Colorado WINS has filed to hold elections of the occupational groups that represent both of those groups of workers.

There is no blueprint for what happens after the elections if a majority of the employees that vote in them say "yes."

State patrol troopers, who backed unionization 3 to 1, are being polled on what they see as employment issues before the ACSPP sits down with state leaders to begin a process that could herald major changes in state government.


Union battles for dues in tribal Casino War

A second union election at Foxwoods Resort Casino will take place May 1, when approximately 310 employees in the engineering department will have the opportunity to vote for or against union representation by the International Union of Operating Engineers. The National Labor Relations Board officially announced the election date Thursday. The labor board will administer the election.

Employees at Foxwoods will have the opportunity to vote from 6 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. May 1, according to the labor board.

“We are just really looking forward to giving the employees the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said William Lynn, the lead organizer with the IUOE Local 30 in Richmond Hill, N.Y.

The first union election at the casino, which is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, took place in November. At that time, table game and poker dealers voted in favor of union representation by the United Auto Workers.

Since the election, the tribe has contested the results on the grounds that the NLRB does not have jurisdiction over the sovereign nation and that ballots should have been translated into two Chinese dialects. It also objected to the conduct of union representatives leading up to and on the day of the election.

An administrative law judge ruled in March that the election results should be certified.

The tribe has vowed to continue to fight the election results, which could land the case in federal court.

A third union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers filed a petition earlier this week, saying it has the support of a substantial amount of workers who are in favor of union representation.

A fourth union, United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, has said it intends to file a similar petition in the fall.

The tribe continues to question the NLRB's jurisdiction.

“As the tribe has said before, the best way to pursue these matters is through the jurisdiction of tribal labor laws,” said Arthur Henick, a tribal spokesman.


Union strips away members' voting rights

Hollywood stars burned by a writers' strike that halted films and dozens of television shows want to prevent another shutdown by stripping lesser-known Screen Actors Guild members of their voting rights. Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow are among more than 1,400 guild members who signed a petition calling for only actors who get at least one day of work a year to vote on strikes and contracts, according to supporters of the plan. Guild President Alan Rosenberg said the proposal will be considered by the union's board at meetings this weekend.

The measure pits actors with regular work in movies and TV against those who have taken time off or who work as waiters while seeking roles. Supporters say the proposal would ensure that those with the most at stake are the ones who decide whether to approve a contract or walk picket lines. Critics say it violates the spirit and history of the 75-year-old guild.

"It's a non-democratic proposition and this is a democratic union," said Pamela Guest, a casting director and actor who wouldn't qualify to vote under the measure. "It's not an elitist union."

Guest is married to the brother of actor Christopher Guest. She said she hadn't discussed the matter with her brother-in-law and his wife, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who are both listed as signatories on the petition.

If enacted, the changes may make it easier for Christopher Guest, Glenn Close and other supporters to prevent a work stoppage when the guild's labor contract expires on June 30, according to Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney at TroyGould in Los Angeles. It would also block votes from members whose livelihood isn't acting, such as Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp.'s chief executive.

Smaller Paychecks

It's a problem that two-thirds of the guild's members made less than $1,000 last year, Moonves said last month at an investor conference. "So those are the people who are going to vote on whether they like a new contract?" he said, chuckling.

The union enters contract talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on April 15. The alliance represents studios and broadcasters Walt Disney Co., CBS, News Corp., Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc., Sony Corp., General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Representatives for Affleck and Paltrow didn't respond to messages. Close declined to comment. She "is a signatory and the reasons are spelled out in the petition," said Catherine Olim, the star's publicist, without elaborating. Jeremy Zimmer, Christopher Guest's agent at United Talent Agency, said his client was unavailable.

'Shot in the Dark'

"It feels ugly," said Tara Ochs, an actress who waits tables at Asia de Cuba, a restaurant popular with Hollywood stars, agents and studio executives. Ochs opposes the limits on voting even though she would qualify to vote under the proposal.

"This is such a shot-in-the-dark business," Ochs said. "Everybody makes it on a wing and a prayer."

The proposal was scaled back this week to include actors who had worked at least one day a year on average over six years, down from five days previously. It would also allow voting by actors who get payments from reruns and DVDs or who are vested in the guild's pension.

"If those with a concrete stake in the contract have greater control, that strengthens SAG's position at the bargaining table," said Ned Vaughn, a petition organizer who has appeared in "Cane" on CBS. Background actors, or extras, who get paid less, would need to average six days of work to vote.

'Screeching Halt'

An actors' strike would be more damaging than the three-month writers' walkout that ended in February, said Jack Kyser, the chief economist for Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., a private research firm.

It would shut down television and film work, while the writers' strike mostly affected TV production, forcing broadcasters to air repeats and unscripted reality shows.

"Everything would come to a screeching halt," Kyser said.

Studios are revving up so they won't be stuck with incomplete movies in the event of a strike. Compared with a year earlier, 50 percent more film permits have been issued since Feb. 13, when writers went back to work, according to Film L.A. Inc., the agency that regulates filming in Los Angeles.

Trying to implement restricted voting will be divisive and a distraction, said guild leader Rosenberg, who opposes the measure.

Hollywood studios support the move because it would weaken the union, he said. Jesse Hiestand, a spokesman for the group representing the studios, declined to comment.

When Rosenberg goes to restaurants around Los Angeles, waiters who are guild members often approach him and argue against the proposal, he said.

While he thinks the measure will be rejected, "It hurts me to bring this before the board," Rosenberg said. "A lot of people who signed that petition haven't really thought through it entirely."


City ends automatic union-dues deduction

A labor union of Osaka City employees is to file a suit against the city, claiming the city is trying to weaken the union by abolishing a system under which the city deducts union dues from members' salaries.

The union says the city has infringed on the union's right of association. In the suit to be filed with the Osaka District Court, the union will demand cancellation of the city's revised payroll ordinance, including the abolition of the system, which was announced April 1 to be enforced a year later.

With the abolition of the dues collection system, the union representing 13,500 city employees will be forced to collect more than 1 billion yen in dues itself.

The union is the largest member body of the association of labor unions for Osaka city employees. With about 34,000 Osaka city employees as members, the association backed Osaka Mayor Kunio Hiramatsu in his first campaign in November.

The bill for the revised payroll ordinance was proposed by a group of municipal assembly members belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party at an assembly session on March 28. They claimed the system had fostered collusive relations between the government and employees--an issue that has become the topic of hot public debate.

The bill was approved with the support of assembly members belonging to New Komeito. Members belonging to the Democratic Party of Japan, which has been supported by the association of labor unions, abstained from voting, while the Japanese Communist Party opposed the bill.


AFSCME prison-guard probe expands

A probe that began last month into guards beating inmates at both the Roxbury Correctional Institute in Hagerstown (Maryland) and the North Branch Correctional Institute here in Cumberland has turned into one of the most extensive investigations in years, leading to the termination or possible termination at both facilities.

Detectives are working with state police and local prosecutors investigating several encounters between inmates and officers in early March at both prisons. So far, 17 officers from RCI have been fired and eight officers from North Branch are on paid administrative leave, according to prison officials.

Labor unions representing the correctional officers say the state has moved too quickly to fire officers in a broad sweep and have vowed to appeal the terminations, and Joe Lawrence, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which will represent the accused officers, told the Baltimore Sun that the investigation is being pursued in a reckless fashion, and morale has suffered.

Spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, Mark Vernarelli, spoke with WCBC News, and he says that that is simply not the case.


SEIU rues dues hit

Diane Suchomel, the library clerk at Sobrato High School, has been told that her job won't be there next year. At the school since 2003, she was previously the library clerk at Britton Middle School. As Morgan Hill School District trustees look at ways to cut $3 million from the school budget, district employees such as Suchomel are looking to a future that could include layoffs, with 28 teachers notified they may not be in a classroom next year and more than eight classified employees facing unemployment.

Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Tognazzini told Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Education trustees that $2 million in cuts will come from the district's general fund, and $1 million will be taken out of the categorical, or restricted, budgets.

"This is very difficult, it's devastating to some people," said Pam Torrisi, Service Employees International Union chair. "It's also difficult on the people who are left who have to take up the slack."

Suchomel told trustees during Tuesday night's regular school board meeting that eliminating non-classroom positions also has a devastating impact on students, teachers and the entire school community.

"From the time a student arrives at Sobrato, they have to see me," she said. "I keep track of their textbooks ... They also see me when they read a novel ... We have a very busy library."

Suchomel said the clerk positions at the two high schools are also valuable because of the other services they provide.

"I can repair a book cheaper than we can buy a new one or send it out for repair," she said, noting that textbooks can cost from $65 to more than $100 per book.


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