Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Lawsuit Accuses AFT Local of Misusing Members' Dues Money

The Mississippi chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has a bone to pick with its parent union and its president Randi Weingarten. The state-based union recently filed a lawsuit against AFT “alleging ‘breach of fiduciary duty’ and ‘tortious interference’ arising from a dispute over unpaid dues from its Jackson local.”

The suit states that back in 2018, the Jackson Federation of Teachers fell behind in its obligation to send a percent of its members’ dues to the state and national union. The Mississippi AFT asked the national office to investigate. After only a limited inspection, the union auditor discovered the Jackson-based local’s books were a complete disaster.

Here are just some of the issues with the union’s financial records, according to a news report:

  • failure to enter financial data into the union’s bookkeeping software for three years;
  • failure to balance bank accounts, resulting in several instances of overdrafts;
  • failure to document or support numerous debit card purchases and ATM cash withdrawals;
  • payments totaling $10,735 made to Rod’s Repair and Maintenance, the owner of which is president of another business, Hydro Arts LLC.

It turns out that Akemi Stout, the Jackson local’s president, was also vice president of Hydro Arts LLC at the time. (Stout resigned as vice president of Hydro Arts in October 2020.)

AFT Mississippi has since accused Stout and the Jackson executive board of  “misusing funds for a wide range of personal expenditures,” “severe financial crimes” and embezzling “significant sums of money.” It also accuses AFT President Weingarten of covering for Stout who is apparently a “close and personal friend” of hers.

In response, Weingarten seemed largely unbothered by this infighting, calling it merely a “personality conflict” between the union leaders. Instead, she pointed out that the lawsuit would only “cost members hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues that come directly from their hard-earned paychecks.”

Apparently, Weingarten doesn’t have the same concern for the dues money from Jackson teachers that was so horribly mismanaged on her pal Stout’s watch.

Categories: AFT