Jilted steward plans to speak at union meeting - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Jilted steward plans to speak at union meeting

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Guam Federation of Teachers steward Carol Somerfleck says she was dissatisfied after walking out of the union's executive council meeting last night.  Somerfleck hired law firm Civille & Tang to represent her just in case the GFT decides to kick her out of the union. 

Somerfleck refused to participate in a hearing conducted by the executive council after GFT president Matt Rector refused to let her attorney in on the meeting. Just yesterday, Attorney Patrick Civille wrote a letter to Rector, saying the hearing should be cancelled because it failed to give due process and lacked specificity on what conduct Somerfleck is deemed to warrant an investigation.

When she went before the council, she said it was an uncomfortable situation, telling KUAM News, "It was tense, absolutely tense. It's like you can cut it with a knife. It was very tense."  She added, "The only thing he said because he didn't say anything as I walked in, was when it came to the agenda, which I was to be discussed, he just said, 'Okay Carol, I want you to answer questions.'  To him I said, 'I will not answer any questions without representation. You have my letter from my attorney, and I'm leaving.'"

According to the letter, Civille requested to have everything taped either through audio or video in order to be formally placed on the record. But according to Somerfleck, the council posted a sign at the door saying no audio or video would be s allowed during the meeting.

Somerfleck said to make matters worse, the GFT allowed someone from the office to record what was to take place, recalling, "Despite that, in the conference room, they were taping. The GFT officer was taping. That wasn't very fair - if I couldn't do it, but yet they could do it."

Somerfleck say she has yet to hear back from the council to find out if she will be removed from the union. Just in case Rector decides to move forward with the removal, Somerfleck says she and her lawyer will take the issue even further.  "If they proceed forward based on our letters, we will proceed as well. And we will take it to court," she stated.

Somerfleck is expected to speak out during a regular GFT membership meeting scheduled for this Friday. She encourages all her colleagues and teachers to voice their concerns about the union's leadership. She says every member should be able to question without retaliation, adding, "I'm encouraging every member; if you believe as we do and our belief is that we want the union back in the hands of the members. It is a good union, we want this union to continue and do better things, but we want the leadership to change."

The membership meeting will be held this Friday at the GFT's headquarters in Mangilao beginning at 5:30pm.

In the meantime, KUAM News attempted to contact Rector, but our calls were left unanswered. However, he did make a post on Twitter, writing, "It would be nice if this small group of members put as much energy in helping the union (like coming to meetings) as they are in hurting it."

But in the GFT's E-Newsletter, issued late Wednesday afternoon, Rector calls the allegations he faces by union steward Carol Somerfleck "unfounded" and says they hurt the union.  

The newsletter also provided a timeline and facts implying that this dispute from Somerfleck stems from the GFT ceasing a $90,000 per year contract with her husband.

WORK FOR YOUR UNION, DON'T ATTACK IT!!! (from GFT's E-Newsletter)

A few misguided members have been creating a circus with the for-profit media based on unfounded allegations which is hurting our union.  The power of our union is the collective strength of our members participating, sending emails, picketing and standing up for each other.  Unfortunately, a small group of members that never or rarely attend meetings or rallies or send emails have only decided now to be active and destroy the union that we have worked hard to build. It shouldn't be a surprise that Guam's for-profit media will continue their war on Guam's working families and our union but it's important for members and their families to know the truth!!!

THE SOMERFLECK TIMELINE AND FACTS (from GFT's E-Newsletter)

  • 2-10-10: GFT ceases $90k per year legal fees to Mrs. Somerfleck's husband
  • 3-3-10: President Rector attends a faculty meeting at AHEMS, where Mrs. Somerfleck teaches.
  • 3-5-10: President Rector sends a letter to members at AHEMS
  • 3-19-10: Mrs. Somerfleck sends a letter to the GFT Executive Council
  • 3-23-10: Letter from Mrs. Somerfleck was still in discussion and review by the Executive Council
  • 4-5-10: Mrs. Somerfleck sends another letter to the Executive Council
  • 4-15-10: The Executive Council directs Secretary Sharma to respond to her letter
  • 4-20-10: Executive Council moves to hold an inquiry into Mrs. Somerfleck's recent conduct at the next Executive Council meeting to hear her side of the concerns for clarifications
  • 4-23-10: Executive Council sends letter of summons for an inquiry with Mrs. Somerfleck.  No intentions of removal were made 
  • 5-3-10: Deadline for Mrs. Somerfleck to respond to summons; responds with Letter from her lawyer
  • 5-4-10: Executive Council meeting with Mrs. Somerfleck's inquiry in which she refused to answer questions

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