Former GFT staffer speaks out against union - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Former GFT staffer speaks out against union

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - From mediation to negotiating collective bargaining agreements, they're Guam's local union whose mission is to protect its workers. But as one former employee speaks up, under new management, the Guam Federation of Teachers has transformed into anything but that.

"When Mr. Matt Rector left the island, everything changed," said Debbie Quinata. As the former GFT teachers senior field representative, Quinata told KUAM News she could no longer work for a union who no longer represented its members. "Today I'm here to say that I can no longer stand by this organization - I feel they're fraudulent I fear they want your dues to pay their salaries, which I guess is an honorable thing except not to you. You no longer have representation 24/7. You have representation when the office is open and if they feel like it."

Quinata, who resigned earlier this year after eight years on the job, says trouble began when former GFT vice president Tim Fedenko took lead of the union. Quinata says soon after taking office, Fedenko established a new position of executive director, filled by newcomer Jolene Castro. "There's only one thing about that. She doesn't know a thing about the union," Quinata stated.

Quinata alleges Castro is responsible for delays in finalizing contracts for Port Authority of Guam workers.  "You interrupted the route. It has a standard operating procedure like mostly everything. She picked it up at the port put it in her desk and for four months nobody was aware of it while everybody was looking for it," she said.

But that's not all. After getting sick and running out of leave, Quinata says Castro denied her the right to borrow leave hours from a willing coworker. And when medications made it impossible for Quinata to drive, she also alleges Castro refused an arrangement that allowed Quinata's daughter to drive her around.

Now a target of union management, Quinata encourages other members to get out, too.  "Save your money," she warned, "or demand that the union follow what is written in your contracts and in all the documentations they provide you. It's difficult to have an attorney on retainer. And I will repeat what the governor said once - that I will have to agree with - if we all had good managers, we wouldn't need a union but that's not the case. And some people do need help. Some people truly don't know their rights as an employee."

Fedenko refused to provide a comment on the matter.

The American Federation of Teachers, which was recently on island, also declined to comment.

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