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AFT conducting inquiry into union election

by Nick Delgado

Guam - A preliminary investigation is underway by the American Federation of Teachers after they received complaints challenging this year's election results from the Guam Federation of Teachers. The AFT sent a letter to recently re-elected union president Matt Rector informing him of their preliminary investigation being conducted.

The investigation if fueled by the three of the candidates who ran in this year's GFT election and did not win. Former union steward Carol Somerfleck, along with James Nichols and Ed Quintanilla drafted the complaint alleging that their concerns to the GFT Election Committee fell on deaf ears. Somerfleck said, "We though it needed an investigation or at least someone to review them from the outside because we weren't getting an answer and they must respond but they just failed to respond to us. So we had no choice we had to go to the AFT."

The complaint followed the announcement of the certification of the election results. Among the discrepancies, Somerfleck alleges that her observers on voting day were kicked out of the area the voters were being tabulated an hour before other staff left the building. She also alleges several schools were never given ballots to vote and a couple other schools ballots were just thrown out and not accounted for.

Aside from the many deficiencies cited by Somerfleck she says the GFT president also failed to follow many of the recommendations made by western regional director sol smith earlier this year.

Those recommendations, Somerfleck says, are all part of the GFT constitution. However, Rector is not surprised with the allegations being made against him, saying, "We pretty much expected that she was going to file all the complaints and go through the complete process...we are quite confident that the Election Committee did a fantastic job and they followed all the rules. So the AFT's investigating, as they should, as appropriate. And we're confident that they will find and agree with the Election Committee results."

The GFT was requested by the aft if at all possible to provide a response to the allegations by March 31. While Rector says they have no problem providing a response, Somerfleck is hopeful the investigation will move forward, noting, "I'm hoping that they will find that there is merit and I believe there is merit in many of the cases in fact all of the cases we put forward, there is merit and I'm hoping they will come, investigate fully and in the end have a reelection."

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