Labor Union

United Teachers of Dade (UTD)

Website:

www.utd.org/

Location:

Miami, FL

Type:

Labor Union Local

President:

Karla Hernandez-Mats

Membership:

Approximately 29,000 [47]

The United Teachers of Dade (UTD), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is a teachers’ labor union in Miami-Dade County, Florida and one of the largest and most influential local teachers’ unions in the United States. [1]

In the 1960s, behind a union president who was later convicted on federal corruption charges, UTD led the first statewide teachers’ strike in U.S. history. [2] [3]

In recent years, corruption by union leaders and new legal protections for teachers that leave the union have caused membership losses, putting the UTD at risk of potential decertification if it falls below representing 50 percent of the eligible school district employees. [4]

Funding

Based on relative enrolment data published by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Miami-Dade County Public School District has around 360,000 students, making it the fourth-largest public school district in the United States. [5] Though UTD relies largely on dues paid by members to fund its activities, it is also sponsored by organizations including the South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union, American Fidelity, Liberty Mutual Car Insurance, US Legal, and H&R Block. [6]

Collective Bargaining

The minimum salary for a full-time teacher negotiated by the UTD in its current contract is $41,000. The maximum salary is $88,137. These amounts do not include insurance benefits or payments for additional duties such as after-school programs. [7]

Lobbying and Political Activism

UTD has advocated against HB 7055, a Florida law passed in 2018. According to a summary of the bill prepared by the Florida Senate’s Education Committee, HB 7055 “expands state school choice scholarship programs and streamlines accountability for participating private schools.” [8][9]

In advance of the Supreme Court’s hearing of opening arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, UTD urged its members to attend a rally on February 24, 2018 in Downtown Miami to support the Federation. [10] The case in question concerned whether or not it was constitutional for government labor unions like UTD to compel non-union members to pay fees as a condition of continuing employment. (UTD was already prevented from collecting such compulsory fees by Florida’s right-to-work law.) On June 27, 2018, the Court ruled that allowing public sector workers’ unions to collect these forced fees violates workers’ First Amendment right to free speech. [11]

2018 Property Tax Millage

In 2018, the UTD led a successful property tax referendum that was promoted as being earmarked for increased teacher pay in Miami-Dade. [12] The referendum raised taxes on the average home by $140 per year. In that year’s contract negotiations, union members received not only salary increases but also one-time bonuses of as much as $8,000. [13] Public charter school teachers in Miami, who are not union members, did not receive any raises or bonuses.

Joint Lobbying with School District

In the UTD’s current contract with the Miami-Dade County Public School District, the union and school board agreed “to work cooperatively to develop a legislative package and action plan designed to seek passage of legislation… which would minimize paperwork requirements that are a result of federal laws, State Statutes, or Florida Department of Education Rules and Regulations.” [14]

Failed Lawsuit Against Mayor

In 2014, the UTD and then-vice president Karla Hernandez-Mats sued Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R), alleging that he had failed to properly fund an appraiser’s office that played an important role in collecting taxes that fund education in the region. [15]

However, the appraiser’s office was not actually under the jurisdiction of the mayor, and its funding levels were determined by a state agency, not Gimenez. [16] As a result, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice by Judge Barbara Areces, who ruled that the union did not have standing to bring such a lawsuit, that even if they did have standing that they had sued in the wrong court, and that even if those two problems were addressed that the mayor had done nothing over which he could be sued. [17]

United Teachers of Dade Excellence Foundation

The United Teachers of Dade Excellence Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sister organization to UTD established in 2009. According to the Foundation’s tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, from the time of its founding until 2015, its net assets totaled less than $30,000 on average. [18] However, in 2015, the Foundation received $7,353,773 from a single anonymous contributor. . [19] As of November 4, 2019, the Foundation’s website (utdteachingexcellence.org) appears to be in a state of neglect, with many of the website’s informational pages seemingly deleted. [20]

1968 Florida Teachers Strike

In 1968, the UTD’s predecessor, the Dade County Classroom Teachers Association, led the nation’s first statewide teacher’s strike, which lasted for three weeks. [21] [22] The strike, which was illegal under state law, involved two thirds of the district’s teachers not reporting to classrooms for work. [23]

Florida’s elected officials largely gave in to the union’s demands, agreeing to increase education funding and allow collective bargaining. [24]

People

Patrick Tornillo

Patrick Tornillo was the president of the UTD and its predecessor Dade County Classroom Teachers Association from 1962 until 2003, when he resigned after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion and mail fraud charges related to his misappropriation of union funds. [25] An audit found that Tornillo’s misuse of union funds had included financing personal trips to Russia, Paris, St. Barts, St. Lucia, New York, San Francisco, St. Kitts, Atlanta, Asia, Alaska, Tallahassee, China, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand. [26]

At his sentencing, Tornillo told the judge that “Somewhere, somehow, I felt I had the right to use union funds.” [27] He served 22 months in federal prison and was sentenced to pay $800,000 in restitution to the union for leading the embezzlement of an estimated $3.35 million. [28] [29]

Tornillo, who died in 2007, had been considered one of the most powerful teachers’ union leaders in the country and one of the most powerful figures in Florida politics. [30] At the time, Tornillo’s annual salary of $228,000 was tied to the salary increases he secured union members in contract negotiations. [31] [32]

After Tornillo’s crimes were revealed, the UTD lost hundreds of members who resigned in protest, and in 2003 it was placed under the control of an administrator appointed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). [33] The administrator cut union local staff by a quarter, and reduced union dues to try to lure back departed members. [34] If the union’s membership drops below 50 percent of the eligible employees of the school district, it faces decertification by the State of Florida. [35]

In testimony to the U.S. Senate, then-AFT president Sandra Feldman claimed that the national union “had no knowledge of any alleged wrongdoing by the local’s president until the FBI raided the union’s headquarters.” [36]

In 1972, Tornillo ran as a Democratic Party candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. The Miami Herald published editorials opposing his candidacy because of his actions as union leader, writing “it would be inexcusable of the voters if they sent Pat Tornillo to Tallahassee to occupy the seat for District 103 in the House of Representatives.” [37]

Tornillo demanded that the paper print his unedited replies equally as prominently as the original editorials, citing a Florida law that required media to provide the “right of reply” if a political candidate was criticized. The newspaper declined, and Tornillo sued. [38]

The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously against Tornillo, finding that Tornillo’s demanded response would violate the newspaper’s rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. [39] In the Court’s ruling, Chief Justice Warren Burger explained that the First Amendment protects newspaper editors’ rights to be free of government control over their actions, and “the Florida statute fails to clear the barriers of the First Amendment because of its intrusion into the function of editors.”

Karla Hernandez-Mats

Karla Hernandez-Mats is the current president of the UTD.

Prior to becoming president in February 2016, Hernandez-Mats was UTD’s secretary-treasurer and Spanish-language media spokesperson. She is also a member of the governance board of the Florida Education Association and a chair of the American Federation of Teachers Women’s Rights Committee. [40] On December 6, 2017, Hernandez-Mats was arrested at a rally in support of extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) immigrant-amnesty program held in Washington, D.C. in front of the Capitol Building. [41]

American Federation of Teachers

The United Teachers of Dade is an affiliate organization of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers’ union in the United States. [42] In total, the Federation represents about 1.5 million teachers. The Federation is a member of AFL-CIO (the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) and is a substantial contributor to Democratic candidates for office nationwide and to Democratic Party committees. [43][44] In general, the Federation defends controversial “tenure” policies, which make it difficult to remove ineffective teachers from their positions as well as financial reforms, such as adjusting the size of teachers’ pension contributions. [45][46]

References

  1. Park, Paula. “The Old School of Power.” Miami New Times, April 2, 2016. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/the-old-school-of-power-6361374. ^
  2. Bakeman, Jessica. “50 Years Ago, Miami-Dade County Played Key Role In Nation’s First Statewide Teacher Strike.” WLRN. Accessed January 30, 2020. https://www.wlrn.org/post/50-years-ago-miami-dade-county-played-key-role-nations-first-statewide-teacher-strike#stream/0. ^
  3. Park, Paula. “The Old School of Power.” Miami New Times, April 2, 2016. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/the-old-school-of-power-6361374. ^
  4. Wright, Colleen. “Three More Years: Incumbent Teachers’ Union Leaders, Caucus Sweep Elections.” miamiherald. Miami Herald, February 20, 2019. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article226520620.html. ^
  5. “Table 215.30: Enrollment, poverty, and federal funds for the 120 largest school districts, by enrollment size in 2014: Selected years, 2013-14 through 2016.” National Center for Education Statistics. 2016. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_215.30.asp ^
  6. “Sponsors.” United Teachers of Dade. Accessed November 5, 2019. http://www.utd.org/information/sponsors/ ^
  7. “C O N T R A C T Between the MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS and the UNITED TEACHERS OF DADE.” United Teachers of Dade, January 14, 2019. http://laborrelations.dadeschools.net/labor_union/UTD/UTD_2017-2020_Successor.pdf. ^
  8. “CS/HB 7055 — Education.” The Florida Senate (Education Comittee). Accessed November 5, 2019. https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/billsummaries/2018/html/1827 ^
  9. “(HB 7069 On Steroids) Top Ten Reasons HB 7055 is an Anti-Public Schools and Anti-Teacher Bill.” United Teachers of Dade. Accessed November 5, 2019. http://www.utd.org/information/news/hb-7069-on-steroids-top-ten-reasons-hb-7055-is-an-anti-public-schools-and-anti-teacher-bill/ ^
  10. “Day of Action.” United Teachers of Dade. Accessed November 5, 2019. http://www.utd.org/information/news/day-of-action/ ^
  11. Liptak, Adam.“Supreme Court Ruling Delivers a Sharp Blow to Labor Unions.” New York Times. June 27, 2018. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-unions-organized-labor.html ^
  12. Wright, Colleen. “What’s in the Miami-Dade Union’s Opening Bid on Pay Raises for School Teachers?” MiamiHerald.com. Miami Herald, November 14, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article221642450.html. ^
  13. Wright, Colleen. “Miami-Dade Schools, Teachers Union Make a Pay Deal Capped by Surprise Bonus in January.” MiamiHerald.com. Miami Herald, December 11, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article222959105.html. ^
  14. “C O N T R A C T Between the MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS and the UNITED TEACHERS OF DADE.” United Teachers of Dade, January 14, 2019. http://laborrelations.dadeschools.net/labor_union/UTD/UTD_2017-2020_Successor.pdf. ^
  15. “Dade Teacher’s Union Files Lawsuit Against Mayor.” CBS Miami. CBS Miami, December 5, 2014. https://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/12/05/dade-teachers-union-files-lawsuit-against-mayor/. ^
  16. “Dade County – Office of the Mayor – News Release.” Miami-Dade County, January 12, 2015. http://www.miamidade.gov/mayor/releases/2014-01-12-statement-on-united-teachers-of-dade-complaint.asp. ^
  17. Hanks, Doug. “Judge Dismisses Teacher Union’s Suit against Miami-Dade over Property Appeals.” Naked Politics, October 30, 2015. https://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2015/10/judge-dismisses-teacher-unions-suit-against-miami-dade-over-property-appeals.html. ^
  18. “UTD TEACHING EXCELLENCE FOUNDATION INC.” ProPublica. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/270282567 ^
  19. UTD Teaching Excellence Foundation. Form 990, Schedule B: Part I. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/270282567/201513009349300506/IRS990ScheduleB ^
  20. “Homepage.” UTD Teaching Excellence Foundation. Accessed November 4, 2019. http://www.utdteachingexcellence.org/ ^
  21. Bakeman, Jessica. “50 Years Ago, Miami-Dade County Played Key Role In Nation’s First Statewide Teacher Strike.” WLRN. Accessed January 30, 2020. https://www.wlrn.org/post/50-years-ago-miami-dade-county-played-key-role-nations-first-statewide-teacher-strike#stream/0. ^
  22. Park, Paula. “The Old School of Power.” Miami New Times, April 2, 2016. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/the-old-school-of-power-6361374. ^
  23. Solochek, Jeffrey. “50 Years Ago, Florida Teachers Walked off Their Jobs. Today’s Union Leaders Are Inspired.” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times, August 22, 2019. https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/teachers/50-years-ago-Florida-teachers-walked-off-their-jobs-Today-s-union-leaders-are-inspired_165549681/. ^
  24. Solochek, Jeffrey. “50 Years Ago, Florida Teachers Walked off Their Jobs. Today’s Union Leaders Are Inspired.” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times, August 22, 2019. https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/teachers/50-years-ago-Florida-teachers-walked-off-their-jobs-Today-s-union-leaders-are-inspired_165549681/. ^
  25. Honawar, Vaishali. “Disgraced Union Leader Pat Tornillo Dies.” Education Week, February 22, 2019. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/06/27/43tornillo_web.h26.html. ^
  26. “Audit Confirms Millions in Misused Union Funds.” Ocala.com. Ocala.com, September 6, 2003. https://www.ocala.com/article/LK/20030906/News/604246956/OS/1. ^
  27. O’Neill, Ann W. “EX-TEACHERS UNION LEADER GOES TO PRISON FOR 2 YEARS.” OrlandoSentinel.com, October 25, 2018. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2003-11-25-0311250363-story.html. ^
  28. Blair, Julie. “Miami Union Leader Pleads Guilty to Fraud.” Education Week, February 22, 2019. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2003/09/03/01utd.h23.html. ^
  29. “The Rise and Fall Of Pat Tornillo.” The Ledger. The Ledger, August 30, 2003. https://www.theledger.com/article/LK/20030830/News/608113692/LL. ^
  30. Park, Paula. “The Old School of Power.” Miami New Times, April 2, 2016. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/the-old-school-of-power-6361374. ^
  31. ValdM-is, Ana M. “MIAMI-DADE TEACHERS SUE UNION’S EX-LEADER.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, September 28, 2018. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-2003-11-21-0311201527-story.html. ^
  32. Park, Paula. “The Old School of Power.” Miami New Times, April 2, 2016. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/the-old-school-of-power-6361374. ^
  33. Honawar, Vaishali. “Disgraced Union Leader Pat Tornillo Dies.” Education Week, February 22, 2019. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/06/27/43tornillo_web.h26.html. ^
  34. Blair, Julie. “New Union Administrator Cuts Jobs, Salaries.” Education Week, February 22, 2019. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2003/06/18/41utd.h22.html. ^
  35. Wright, Colleen. “Three More Years: Incumbent Teachers’ Union Leaders, Caucus Sweep Elections.” miamiherald. Miami Herald, February 20, 2019. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article226520620.html. ^
  36. Feldman, Sandra. “Full Committee Hearing Notice – ‘Teachers Union Scandals: Closing the Gaps in Union Member Protections’ .” Senate.gov. United States Senate, June 19, 2003. https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/feldman1.pdf. ^
  37. “Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo.” Oyez, June 25, 1974. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1973/73-797. ^
  38. “Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo.” Oyez, June 25, 1974. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1973/73-797. ^
  39. “Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo.” Oyez, June 25, 1974. https://www.oyez.org/cases/1973/73-797. ^
  40. Powell, Dana. “Karla Hernández-Mats elected as United Teachers of Dade president.” Miami’s Community Newspapers. March 2, 2016. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://communitynewspapers.com/kendallgazette/karla-hernandez-mats-elected-united-teachers-dade-president/ ^
  41. Swift, Tim. “Teachers union president arrested at immigration rally in Washington.” Local10.com. December 6, 2017. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://www.local10.com/news/politics/teachers-union-president-arrested-at-immigration-rally-in-washington ^
  42. “United Teachers of Dade.” American Federation of Teachers. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://www.aft.org/affiliate/01974-0 ^
  43. Center for Responsive Politics. “Top Organization Contributors.” Opensecrets. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 09, 2016. http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?cycle=ALL ^
  44. Quinnel, Kenneth. “Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: AFT.” April 1, 2019. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://aflcio.org/2019/4/1/get-know-afl-cios-affiliates-aft ^
  45. Evans, Andrew. “Campbell Brown: Teacher Tenure Must End.” Washington Free Beacon. October 2, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2019. http://freebeacon.com/issues/campbell-brown-teacher-tenure-must-end/ ^
  46. “Public Pensions.” American Federation of Teachers. Accessed November 5, 2019. http://www.aft.org/position/public-pensions ^
  47. “Office of Labor Relations.” Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Accessed February 7, 2020. http://laborrelations.dadeschools.net/union_profiles.asp. ^
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United Teachers of Dade (UTD)


Miami, FL