by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The Guam Federation of Teachers conducted an election back in March that was not as prescribed by its constitution. American Federation of Teachers Western Regional Director Solomon Smith revealed during a membership meeting Wednesday night that the GFT executive council agreed that the election in March was unconstitutional.
Smith is on island to investigate several complaints that included one regarding the election of delegates to the AFT Convention in July. After meeting with various complainants and the executive board of the union, Smith said he expanded the investigation to include the election of officers in 2008 and amendments that were made to the constitution in 2008.
Smith would not disclose details of the investigations, saying he must first share the information with AFT attorneys and President Randy Weinberg. When asked whether the officers are installed, Smith replied, "They're definitely installed".
But for how long remains to be seen pending the completion of the investigation the western regional director said he didn't know how long it would take but assured members he would try to move as quickly as possible. During his visit over the last week, an AFT accountant has been going over the union's books. Smith reported that no money is unaccounted for and there are no improprieties. "The allegations were unfounded and untrue. We only made some recommendations, only on principle."
Smith stressed the need for unity saying the union is strong and will continue to be as long as the members don't let issues destroy their unity. He asked members to set aside their differences, saying the union shouldn't have enemies inside the organization.
GFT President Matt Rector said, "There's been a non-stop war on our union...there are efforts to take away our ability to provide for our families. We are powerful. Now we're a strong, powerful force to be reckoned with." He claimed that there are higher-ups in the Republican Party working hard, making a concerted effort to destroy the union. Rector said there are some misguided people both outside and inside the union who he calls "agents of evil" trying to destroy the GFT's ability to win.
"There's a war going on against you, your family and every school child and every public employee on the island," he stated.