The American Federation of Teachers has taken over the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, relieving the union’s president Diana Moore and the board of directors from their positions. The national union felt the need to exercise this rarely-used ability as a temporary fix for the local union’s problems.
Wendy Doromal, a former board member of the OCCTA, described the lead-up to the drastic shift:
I think that everyone in our union knew this was the direction we were heading. Members of the board voted to ask for AFT to institute an administratorship. There were allegations that officers or leaders used time and union resources to campaign during the election.
We’re going to start with a clean slate.
According to Amanda McKenzie of Bay News 9, the AFT and the Florida Education Association tried to help the union resolve its problems, which have escalated over the last year.
According to Randi Weingarten, the president of the AFT, local president Moore:
… refused to comply, believing she is above the union’s governing documents. This has led to members’ rights being diminished, and an increasingly dysfunctional union.
Today’s action, while permitted under the AFT constitution, is rarely exercised. It’s intended as a temporary measure to restore credibility and order and to return democratic rights to members.
Moore was first elected in 2012 and then re-elected. According to WESH, an investigative committee found in June that the local union was disregarding bylaws on the separation of powers, interfering with members’ responsibility and authority, and “repeated systemic and intentional internal election misconduct.” At least four elections had to be re-run.
The local union represents about 13,000 teachers, according to Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel.
In June, after an AFT hearing, Moore said that the guidelines that govern the local, state, and two national unions, and labor laws, can lead to confusion. During the AFT’s takeover, Moore was on vacation, but she sent an email to News 13 that read:
I was accused of financial malfeasance to trigger this process. Those charges were cleared. Our union has grown by 10 percent, we bargained a 6.3 percent raise, held insurance costs for two years and negotiated a three-year hold harmless on VAM. The truth will prevail.
In a statement to Channel 9, she lodged her own complaints about the process:
As a dues-paying union member, I was not afforded the opportunity to have representation all throughout this matter. What I have tried to do is preserve the rights and due process of all members of Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. I’m shocked that the national union does not honor a paying union member’s rights to due process. Our members in Orange County are quite happy with their union. NEA has remained silent despite reaching out for support. This is all about members and money. They’re losing members and money in the national organization. It’s politics at its worst.
The AFT will be holding an election to restore leadership.