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Takeover poses multiple questions


To the editor: After reading Crystal Lewis' article, "DC 37 Retirees Association taken over by AFSCME” (The Chief, this issue) the question that occurs to me as well is: "Why did it take a severe IRS penalty before AFSCME addressed this reportedly six-year-old problem with the DC-37 Retirees Association?"

Because it represents 40,000 dues-paying retired city workers, I'm probably not the only puzzled reader. Were there no existing mechanisms in either AFSCME or District Council 37, both of which have financial staff making six-figure salaries, to help an affiliate avoid such measures?

An AFSCME staffer had referred to its financial standards code. It specifies that all union officers are to ensure that required governmental reports are filed on a timely basis. Is there no AFSCME fiduciary responsibility lying between publishing a Code and taking control of a local affiliate?

Closer to home, DC-37’s constitution says that the union’s "treasurer shall perform such duties as are necessary to conduct the council's review of local union finances as provided for in this constitution. The treasurer shall cause to be provided annual training sessions for local union officers in local union accounting, bookkeeping and record-keeping. In conjunction with the International Union, the council's treasurer shall annually provide local unions with an established written financial standards code setting forth all necessary and required accounting processes." 

Is DC-37's sole fiduciary responsibility to provide training, but not to even ask if local affiliates submit governmental financial reports in a timely manner?

Lewis was unable to get a response from AFSCME or DC-37 for the article. So the severity and the timing of AFSCME's treatment of the DC-37 Retirees Association, that is a "takeover" of its finances, undoubtedly leads to speculation in many quarters. 

Helen Northmore


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