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AFT Washington Affiliate Tries to Block Release of Public Documents Relating to Union Leader’s Embezzlement of Funds

by P.D. Lesko

Ideally, union leaders help and protect members to the extent allowed by the contract negotiated between the union and the employer. At Green River Community College there have been allegations made that the game is being played differently. GRCC is located in Auburn, Washington, a suburb of Seattle with a population of about 75,000. In response to allegations made by part-time faculty who are union members represented by United Faculty (UF), AdjunctNation.com launched an investigation. As a part of our effort to gather documents, AdjunctNation filed two Freedom of Information Act requests on July 20, 2012. In response, UF’s leadership has attempted to force Green River Community College officials to keep from releasing emails and documents that could confirm leaders’ alleged efforts to single out, end the career and destroy the reputation of one of the union’s own members, part-time faculty member Keith Hoeller.

Hoeller Photo_lowresHoeller (pictured, left) claims that union leaders (one of whom is his supervisor in his position as a part-time faculty member at the college) are retaliating against him for criticizing union officials in op-eds, and launching an independent adjunct faculty association at the college in 2011. Hoeller has also provided a cache of documents including letters and emails which show him objecting to what he claims is an illegal effort by college officials, in concert with union leaders, to unilaterally change the union contract so that adjunct faculty are more easily dismissed, and pressing union leaders to provide a full accounting of the theft of thousands of dollars in union money by former UF president Phil Ray Jack—a theft that was not revealed to members until months after the union’s treasurer had uncovered it.

Hoeller, among others, wonders why details of the theft were kept from the membership, why the union refuses to provide financial information from the years during which Phil Jack led the organization, and why union leaders refused to cooperate with police in investigating and prosecuting the theft. Hoeller believes his calls for more transparency and his advocacy on behalf of GRCC’s adjuncts have prompted the effort to fire him, an effort he says his union is abetting by refusing to aggressively defend or provide him with legal representation.

In May 2012, Hoeller contacted AdjunctNation.com with details of the embezzlement of funds by former UF president Phil Ray Jack. Hoeller wrote in an email, “On April 13, 2012 Mark Millbauer, the current president of the United Faculty Coalition at Green River Community College (AFT/NEA), announced at the end of a regular union meeting that Phil Ray Jack had misappropriated at least $8,000.” In late May, union leaders told the student newspaper that Jack had stolen “$6,200 over a period of about 18 months.” In a June 4, 2012 email to faculty member concerned about the theft, Millbauer revealed that the union’s bond company (all union leaders at the UF are bonded) reimbursed the union for “$6,200 in cash withdrawn, and $3,467.73 for a portion of an unearned stipend check that should be repaid.”

millbauerIn response to a question from AdjunctNation about the total amount stolen by Jack, Millbauer (pictured, right) confirmed via email that between “December  2010 and October 2011, Phil Jack withdrew–without authorization– $6200 from the UF’s bank account. He did so in a series of eight cash withdraws.  He took advantage of the fact that throughout that period the treasurer at the time was gravely ill, had a very serious surgical procedure, and subsequently missed a lot of time and ultimately resigned.  It wasn’t until a semi-permanent treasurer was elected to serve the remaining year of the treasurers’ term of office that some of the withdrawals were discovered.  Soon after taking over, it was the replacement treasurer who found them and brought it to our attention.  We immediately notified AFT Washington and our legal counsel.”

This leads to the question of whether Phil Jack took money after he was replaced by Millbauer. When asked if the theft had been reported to police, Millbauer initially answered, simply, “Yes.” However, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine, the union “chose to handle the case internally and refused to cooperate with the Auburn PD in the filing of criminal charges. The King County Prosecutor’s Office has also looked into the case and determined that, lacking the cooperation of union leadership, there is insufficient evidence for the filing of criminal charges.”

In a subsequent email, Mark Millbauer refuted King County officials. “We have not refused to cooperate with police. All police inquiries have been turned over to the UF’s attorney for handling. I am not aware of any inquiries with the prosecutor’s office.”

In May 2012 Phil Ray Jack resigned from his job at Green River Community College and moved to Colorado, to start fresh without any record of his having stolen money from the union to haunt him, a theft that would, according to an official in the King’s County Prosecutor’s Office, qualify as first degree theft, a felony. In Washington State, Class B felony theft is punishable by a maximum prison term of 10 years and a maximum fine of up to $20,000. Of course, any investigation into Jack’s theft would almost surely uncover embarrassing details about how Jack was able to steal the money in the first place, and why the thefts went undiscovered.

“No one is being held accountable,” complains a part-time faculty member who teaches at GRCC and who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation. “Not Phil Jack, not Mark Millbauer. Then again, maybe Mark can relate. Maybe that’s why it’s ok that Phil stole our money and walked away.”

Phil JackMillbauer described Phil Jack (pictured, right) as “a long time adjunct and former union president who lost his long sought tenure track position, robbed his colleagues of their hard-earned dues subsequently losing their trust and respect.” On the other hand, Mark Millbauer knows exactly what it’s like to be caught stealing. In 2007 he was reported to the state’s ethics board for theft. Millbauer, confronted with audit findings, waived his right to a hearing and reimbursed Green River Community College for $1,787.36. He also paid a civil penalty of $1,000 to the state’s Executive Ethics Board, according to documents. AdjunctNation filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Millbauer’s personnel file and found a 2007 letter of reprimand from Ron Wheadon, Executive Dean. The letter begins, “Please be advised that this letter serves as a written warning for violating college policies and state law with respect to your use of state resources for private benefit….(Y)our actions represent ethics violations that are not acceptable and cannot be repeated.”

On June 4, 2012 Keith Hoeller received an email from Green River Community College Dean Joyce Hammer alerting him that Humanities Division Chair Will Scott had filed a complaint against him. Will Scott is the Chief Negotiator for the union that represents both Scott and Hoeller, a relationship that Hoeller believes represents a serious conflict of interest. On June 13, Hammer emailed Hoeller to say that Scott had not filed a complaint, but rather the “Humanities Division” had filed the complaint against him, despite the fact that the union contract clearly states that a complaint may only be filed “by a person.” In that June 13, 2012 email, Hammer informed Hoeller that the complaint was related to this clause in his contract: “To participate in periodic evaluation of the individual instructors’ [sic] effectiveness and accomplishments.”

In a June 15, 2012 letter to Hammer which Hoeller provided to AdjunctNation.com, Hoeller refuted the basis of the complaint by explaining to the Dean that, “I have never refused” to participate in periodic evaluations. Dean Hammer has steadfastly refused, according to Hoeller, to give him a copy of the complaint filed by Will Scott on May 9, 2012.

Sandy Johanson is a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy Department in which Hoeller has taught for 27 years. On July 17, 2012, she sent him an email that read, in part: “…I would like to meet informally with you to address several concerns we have regarding your job performance as an adjunct faculty member at GRCC.  In particular, Section F, Part 1c of the Faculty Contract states that ‘the instructor will communicate and work collaboratively with the Division, department lead, and the Division Chair.’ ”  The clause is ominously vague and open to a variety of interpretations. Prior to her July 2012 email to him about his communication and collaboration, Johanson had tangled with Hoeller and lost. She had opposed giving him an additional class. Hoeller threatened a grievance, and Johanson backed down, finally abiding by the contract language which clearly outlined Hoeller’s right to teach the additional course.

While adjunct faculty make up a majority (300) of the 450 faculty teaching at Green River Community College, according to college officials, only a few dozen adjunct faculty have joined the joint AFT-NEA unified local that represents the college’s instructors. It is the only joint AFT-NEA local in the state.

Green River Community College is a public institution and, as such, personnel records and emails sent to and from addresses at the college are subject to public records requests, according to state and federal law. In a July 27, 2012 response to two July 20, 2012 Freedom of Information Act requests the college’s Assistant Director of Public Information, Katie Rose, sent along a message which reads, in part, “We estimate that we will need 10 business days (August 10, 2012) to identify all documents within the parameters you provided and to redact certain employee and/or student information as well as any other applicable disclosure exemptions.” On August 1, 2012, Rose emailed the following, “We estimate that we will need 15 business days (August 22, 2012) to locate these documents and redact certain employee information as well as any other applicable disclosure exemptions.” On August 22, 2012, Ms. Rose sent along an email in which she claimed, “The United Faculty’s union legal representation is looking into the legality of this request for public records. We are awaiting their response, which may not be available until late September.”

In short, the Green River Community College faculty union, headed by Mark Millbauer, tried to claim that public records (Millbauer’s email messages and personnel file, among other email messages sent to Greenriver college email addresses and personnel files) were not public records. College officials, either through ignorance of the law, or in open defiance of the law, allowed union officials to stall the FOIAs under the guise of “looking into the legality of the request.”

On September 4, 2012 AdjunctNation contacted Tim Ford, the Ombudsman in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and asked for Mr. Ford’s assistance in the matter. The same day, Green River officials sent along a portion of Millbauer’s personnel file (a letter of reprimand), claiming only letters of reprimand were public records and subject to records requests. AdjunctNation is preparing to file a FOIA appeal, as the Washington State law cited in the refusal is, we believe, being misinterpreted by Green River officials. While it’s possible to believe that Green River officials may be ignorant of Freedom of Information Act request procedures, an email sent by Katie Rose to several of the college’s part-time faculty in May 2012 suggests otherwise. Part-time faculty members had requested copies of email messages sent by current union president Mark Millbauer, among others. In her message to the part-timers, Rose claims, “Green River Community College has the ability to capture emails on college servers for the past 30 days.” State law, however, requires public institutions to keep emails for three years and to make those emails available to records requests.

Why are union officials trying to stop the release of the emails sent to and from Mark Millbauer through his Greenriver college account relating to Phil Ray Jack and Keith Hoeller? It’s just the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg that goes wide and deep below the surface of the Washington State union local. It’s a iceberg that includes the theft of thousands of dollars in union money by former union president Phil Ray Jack, includes allegations that the union has refused to cooperate with the police in investigating the theft, as well as Millbauer’s refusal to release financial information directly to his own part-time faculty union members who requested it.

In an email message to AdjunctNation in response to questions about the union’s refusal to release financial records directly to members, Millbauer wrote: “The UF informed our membership of this incident and have offered to meet and provide anything we can to all members that have requested more information.  We have had two members request further documentation.  While we do not have permission to distribute certain documents and communications via e-mail or in hard copy form, specifically copies of the AFT auditors report and e-mails with our attorney, at the request of those members seeking further documentation, we did get permission to share that documentation with them by facilitating them reading it in the UF office.  We did forward request treasurer reports.”

In a June 2012 email to GRCC part-timer Kathryn Re, who had requested a copy of the union’s latest audit statement, Millbauer refused her request: “As per your request for a copy of the audit, I can’t freely send that to you.  This was reaffirmed to me by the auditor again just today.  However as before, I can and would be happy to show it to you and try to answer any questions you may have as a result.”

Karen Sidney is a lawyer and CPA in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In answer to a question about whether auditors routinely refuse to allow their work to be released to members of an organization, Sidney said, “Auditors don’t have that kind of control. Maybe if the audit were a draft, the auditor would take it back and make changes, but auditors don’t decide who sees the final audit and who doesn’t. The auditor’s job is to make sure the group’s finances are in order.” AdjunctNation has contacted the Attorney General’s Office in Washington to request a copy of the most recent audit filed by the union with the state.

After the May 2012 confession by union officials that past president Phil Ray Jack had stolen thousands of dollars, part-timers Kathryn Re and Keith Hoeller shared emails with AdjunctNation that reveal they began pressuring union officials, including Millbauer, to release financial documents that prove exactly how much money in dues Phil Ray Jack took, when he took the money, and how. Hoeller and Re asked to see treasurer’s reports encompassing the time Phil Jack was the head of the union.

Mark Millbauer downplays the incident. He told AdjunctNation in an email message, “We’ve received very few comments on this incident from our membership, let alone complaints.  In fact, I’m not aware of being pressed to prosecute Phil Jack by our members, including Keith Hoeller. Phil Jack and Phil Jack alone was responsible for taking those funds.”

On May 13, 2012, Keith Hoeller wrote a letter to Peter B. Lewis, Mayor of Auburn, Washington, and a member of the GRCC Board of Trustees. In that letter, titled, “Misappropriation of Funds and Retaliation,” Hoeller writes:

Thank you for talking with me briefly last Friday afternoon.  As I mentioned, I would like to talk to you in more detail about two things.

First, I want to report that there may have been a crime committed by a Green River faculty member.  I have heard from several union members that a former president of the union was found to have misappropriated at least $8,000 in union funds.  The union has given out very little information, and it has refused to honor our requests for budgets, income, expenses, audits, and even minutes of union meetings.  I have also heard that this important information was kept from consideration in his tenure review.  I do not know if anyone has reported this incident to the police.

I do not know if the college administration knows about any of this.  I do not know if any college funds were misappropriated.  I do not know if there was any use of state resources for personal benefit.  Green River does have an Ethics Policy (Policy Number GA-23) in its “Policies and Procedures Manual.”

Mayor Lewis initially agreed to meet with Hoeller to discuss the allegations that a crime had been committed, but a subsequent email from Lewis reveals that he “was told by GRCC officials” to refer Hoeller to the President of the Board of Trustees—not the Auburn Police Department. It was, in essence, the same thing done by officials at Penn State University, where a crime was reported to college officials—who handled the matter internally—as opposed to handing the case over to the police. A Freedom of Information Act request filed with the city of Auburn turned up a May 17, 2012 email to Mayor Lewis from the president of the GRCC Board, Tom Campbell, in which it was revealed that the Trustees and Dr. Eileen Ely, President of GRCC, had been informed of the misappropriation of funds by Phil Jack in April 2012 at an executive session closed to the public. The information could only have come from union officials.

GRCC spokeswomen Vickie Sheehan, when asked why Hoeller’s report of a crime to a Trustee resulted in the referral of the individual to the President of the Board of Trustees as opposed to the Auburn Police Department, said: “The alleged crime had already been reported in March 2012 and the president of the faculty union had notified President Ely as a courtesy at that time. As the alleged crime was already under investigation by the faculty union and their representatives, there was no need to duplicate the efforts already underway. Again, as the faculty union is a separate entity from Green River, the College cannot and will not interfere in union business.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for administering most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The agency’s criminal enforcement program includes investigations of embezzlement from labor organizations.

The agency’s civil program collects and publicly discloses unions’ annual financial reports, conducts compliance audits of labor unions and seeks civil remedies for violations of officer election procedures.

“When crimes such as these occur, workers are right to demand that we deliver swift, effective justice,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Standards Don Todd. “Our work has resulted in convictions of individuals found guilty of wrongdoing against unions, and we are proud of our results in protecting America’s union members. We have obtained more than 800 convictions and exceeded 850 indictments since fiscal year 2001. The court ordered restitution in these cases is just about $103 million.”

OLMS’s public disclosure Web page at http://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/rrlo/lmrda.htm contains union annual financial reports and additional forms required to be filed under the LMRDA. Other information, including synopses of OLMS enforcement actions, is available on OLMS’s home page at http://www.dol.gov/olms/.

Is Keith Hoeller being targeted for dismissal by full-time faculty who are also members and leaders of the union to which he belongs because of his insistence that Phil Jack’s crime not be swept under the rug, among other issues? One thing is certain, Phil Ray Jack was the AFT Washington’s golden boy—a golden boy gone bad. It would be not only an embarrassment for the GRCC union to have the scandal reported widely, but for the state affiliate, as well, and Sandra Schroeder, who heads AFT Washington. Phil Jack served as a member of Schroeder’s AFT Washington board. Between 2007 and 2009, according to AFT Washington financial records filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the affiliate gave Phil Jack over $25,000 in salary and disbursements for official business. In 2010, AFT-Washington money dried up, and that corresponds roughly to when Jack began to steal from his union local.

In the 2011 AFT Washington LM-2 report, Phil Jack is listed as Schroeder’s VP Legal Affairs. Meanwhile, in response to Hoeller’s request for help in defending himself against trumped up complaints filed in retaliation for his advocacy work, Schroeder responded to a June letter on July 12, 2012. She writes, “I understand that you have called WEA again because I have not yet responded to the letter I received  on June 29th. You did not indicate in the letter that there was a need for an urgent reply or that there was a deadline pending. In order to give an adequate reply, I have been investigating your allegations and consulting with our attorney on the union’s obligations. Since you had contacted WEA several times before you contacted me, they are aware of the situation. The decision on what to refer to which state organization, if anything, will be jointly made by leadership in the two organizations.”

In June 2012 Keith Hoeller won the GRCC Distinguished Teaching Award. He is the only adjunct, in the history of the college, to whom the award has ever been given. One month later, in a July 29th email, Sandra Schroeder told Hoeller that AFT Washington, the state affiliate to which he has paid dues for over two dozen years, is not inclined to help him battle the allegations leveled against him by the full-time faculty members of his own union.

Short URL: http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=4539

13 Comments for “AFT Washington Affiliate Tries to Block Release of Public Documents Relating to Union Leader’s Embezzlement of Funds”

  1. […] Union President Mark Millbauer, like officials at Penn State, refused to turn over materials in resp… Green River Community College officials were forced to search Millbauer’s college email account themselves in order to fill the requirements of the FOIA to avoid litigation. AdjunctNation also got help from the Washington State Attorney General’s office in order to push Millbauer and Green River Community College to provide the public records in a timely manner. […]

  2. Thank you for this stunning job of reporting! The facts are clear that corruption flows through the institutions of higher education, and concerned faculty are punished while thieves go free.
    Retaliation is rampart in the halls of learning. Truly something is rotten in the State of Washington.

  3. Thanks for the story. It’s important for unions to go the extra mile and be scrupulous in their operations. It’s far too much the stereotype that unions are corruptible.

    They should welcome the fullest type of independent investigation into these incidents, with a credible, highly regarded investigator paid for by the state union. With published results for all to see.

    As for the endemic problems of the workplace treatment of adjuncts, they are men and women just trying to do a job and shouldn’t be subject to routine harassment and bullying. In British Columbia we have a province-wide system of independent third-party investigation of harassment issues. It is the person being abused that gets to ask for it (one can be fired for frivilous cmplaints) and the professional investigator is paid for by the institution.

    People like Keith have no where to go to have their issues addressed because theirs no independent third party investigation device. Unions and colleges should welcome this as we did in BC in the mid-nineties…it’s really helped improve the practice of everyone.

    Frank Cosco
    Vancouver Community College Faculty Association

  4. I have just e-met Keith, but he is a wonderful human being. In the midst of his own problems, he comes to the help of mine, another adjunct whom he heard was in trouble. And he has just given me the courage, and the help, the wherewithal, to draft a letter to sue the college for violation of my academic freedom among other things because I have been petitioning for adjunct justice: http://signon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts.fb1?source=c.fb&r_by=426534. I have a long upward battle ahead, I know. What I did not know was that Keith took out much time from his own battle to help me in mine: tell me that is not the most venerable of people? Thank you, Keith. And thank you, Ms. Lesko, for a very detailed and fascinating account, if horrifying. But at least the truth will come out. And something will be done. I have hope.

    Ana M. Fores
    Adjunct Professor of English and Language Arts
    Literature, Translations, and Rights Consultant

  5. Dear Ms. Lesko:

    I want to thank you for your wonderfully written article about the issues at Green River Community College.

    Not only was is well written and easy to follow, it was very complete with quotes and facts. We adjuncts at GRCC are indebted to you for bringing this information to a public forum so that our efforts will not be in vain.

    It may be interesting for you to know that the union takes credit for the ability for adjuncts to get retirement accounts and to have benefits, but it was Keith Hoeller that proposed and testified for the bills in the Washington legislature and the union (AFT) testified against them.

    Keith has continued to be harassed and intimiadated by the union and is fearful of the lose of his employment for next year, even though he has received his class assignments for the 2012-13 school year. We, the Green River Adjunct Faculty Association (GRAFA), have contacted the Board of Trustees of the college, and even the Governor of the State of Washington for assistance in the harassment and conflict of interests of full-time faculty and adjuncts in the same union. It may be worth a follow-up article later in the fall quarter.

    Again, thank you for such a complete and well-written article.

    Kathryn A. Re
    Adjunct Math Instructor
    Green River Community College

  6. http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/6077

    http://screwusandwemultiply.net/80-year-old-activist-spread-passion/

    http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/6077

    http://grccteachin.wordpress.com/

    I’ll explain why the url’s are attached above:

    As a former GRCC precarious faculty, for the resounding period
    of one quarter, Sept 19-Dec. 6, 2011, I taught three classes –
    – just in time since several adjuncts had booked unexpectedly.
    My own experience teaching at UT-El Paso; El Paso Community
    College; Park College; for the Sergeants Major Academy at
    Biggs Field; for the US Army at Fort Bliss as a writing
    program contractor; at a federal penal institution — La Tuna;
    for a language school in Juarez; for two special high school
    programs in Texas — at-risk kids living in and around gangs
    and for gifted sophomores in the entire state of Texas; for
    several large corporations as an internal writing coach; for
    Spokane Falls Community College and Spokane Community College;
    for Gonzaga University; for Spokane Public Schools as a
    visiting writer — and on and on, the GRCC folk that
    interviewed me to be honest were not the sharpest pencils in
    the box.

    Obviously, I was one of three new hires to fill that void, and
    the promises made to me about having classes for the Winter
    and Spring semesters, well, I took them with a huge grain of
    salt and mug of Patron tequila. I believe I did not get
    classes for Winter 2012 was because of my activism and
    critique.

    I started the Fall 2011 quarter enlisted to be a huge part of the Teach-
    ins around the Attack on Higher Education. I was on the first
    panel held in front of hundreds of GRCC students and faculty
    and staff. I started a film series and hosted talks. I wrote
    a half dozen news pieces for the GRCC web site (those have
    since been scrubbed). I even wrote up pieces for the street
    newspaper, Real Change News, out of Seattle.

    Count that work as a labor of love and knowing how to be
    strategic around getting youth and faculty involved. Count
    that work as unpaid, too.

    The point of this narrative framing is that I was not rehired
    by GRCC for what many consider dubious reasons. I too ended up
    part of that Hoeller, et al GRAFA group — Green River Adjunct
    Faculty Association. I too spoke out. I too did not feel the
    yellow streak of adjunct fear crawling up my spine.

    GRCC illustrates the ugly side of community colleges and the
    myopia of people who absolutely denigrate their own folk — PT
    faculty. We are the majority there, but we are not
    participants in the joint bargaining unit because dues cost
    and our own pugnacity and independence get rebuked and we
    fall under the cloud of retribution if we dare criticize the
    union leadership’s thinking and lack of unionism and lack
    of understanding that the majority — PT — are what you
    have to bargain for FIRST. I joined the union as a dues payer
    but I understand why 95 percent of the adjuncts do not pay.

    The job I did was regarded well by many of my students. Many
    did not know what PT adjunct means, and were shocked at the
    $3,300 a class I was paid. Think — many of us live in
    Seattle. Make that an hour drive one-way. Add to that a split
    up schedule, and you have adjuncts who have to stay on campus
    a long time to teach evening classes coupled with morning
    classes. Getting a gas stipend? Absurd to the six-digit figure
    ADMIN types. Department and division heads can’t even punch
    themselves out of the proverbial wet bag of logic and
    humanity.

    Students understand the value ADMIN types put on their own
    high wages, on the goofy Martha Stewart mentality
    pushing hyper-new construction, hyper-OCD activity around
    pretty grounds.

    They understand how so many foreign students (more than 1200
    at GRCC)are having basic problems comprehending basic
    instructions in biology classes, or how a college essay is
    an impossible feat for students from Vietnam, Korea, China,
    Iraq, when they just barely learned to speak English. How
    schools like GRCC have deans and department heads who scoff
    at the poor skills of foreign students, YET, they have zero
    gumption to demand a real writing center that goes from
    7 am to 10 pm, M-S, staffed by language instructors, not just
    composition instructors.

    This is what has happened over 30 years of the wrecking crew —
    the moral imperative of working as a collective to help those
    who are at the bottom of the economic and social ladders has
    been lost, discarded. “Love it or leave it,” and, well, many
    FT faculty think there is some Wizard of Oz ready to bring
    tenure track jobs back by the hundreds of thousands.

    Sure, it must intimidate FT faculty who live in suburban hell
    with very limited experience with struggle and travel from
    job to job. It must freak out ADMIN types to understand that
    adjuncts in their midst can and should gain higher wages and
    be part of not only bargaining unit leadership, but to be
    part of the strategic planning of institutions since the
    new majority is us, PT, and how in hell can an institution
    do a damned thing without the insight, experiences and skills
    of PT faculty to lead institutions? Is this where we are at?

    So, Keith’s leadership encouraged me to be part of the GRAFA
    team, and, that off-campus discussion group became a thorn in
    the sides of FT faculty, union leaders, and ADMIN types. WHY?
    Because we represent the future, the now, and their own lack
    of social justice, their own concept of what it means to be
    just and humbled by their own fellow workers, well, that has
    derailed much work in getting FT to realize PT should be lead-
    ing the defense of higher education.

    A silver lining is more than a hope — for now, after teaching
    since 1983, cobbling together work as a journalist (adjunct,
    freelance, PT), gaining new skills as an urban planner after
    years teaching literature, composition, journalism, and many
    human lives worth of time as a community organizer and
    agitator, I am working as an organizer, full-time, respected.

    I’ve been to COCAL X as part of that union work. And, alas, I
    am going to DC to talk with SEIU 500 folk who organized
    American University and George Washington and Maryland
    Community College. So much to learn, so little time to get
    it all done.

    Thanks, Keith, for your own work in WA, years worth, three
    decades or more. Thanks to Ms. Mader. Thanks goes to Dana
    Rush. Jack Longmate. Theresa Knudsen. Gracias goes out to
    a whole lot more folk gutsy and dedicated enough to plow
    through the bourgeois thinking of FT faculty who deep down
    know justice for PT-adjunct-contingents-precariates is
    justice for students, and we deeply need to grown the labor
    movement together, and we need to more deeply grow the
    forces of education by getting youth into it, without the
    prospect of those $2500 a semester one-time lump sums teaching
    college.

    • @We’ve gotten tipped about the dismissal of several of the adjuncts involved in the formation of the independent adjunct faculty association. One of the individuals has been hired back, but received an email in which the department chair (a union leader) wrote that the original refusal to rehire the individual had nothing to do with the formation of the adjunct group. We’re looking into this issue and will determine whether there’s a story there (I suspect there is).

  7. I second Jack Longmate. PD is to be thanked for important piece of serious and credible reporting. Sources are well documented. Throughout the article, any one who wants to verify the information for themselves can do so. I cannot understand why local media and mainstream higher education press has ignored this story. Union embezzlement stories, as someone pointed out, may be a dime a dozen, but wouldn’t union leadership going after an adjunct whistleblower who is also a long standing member of the same union lift the story out of any shrug-it-off category and raise questions?

    Ignoring malfeasance or claiming it does not matter seems unwise denial at best. How much worse then is going after the anyone asking transparency and accountability? As Jack also points out, possible future implications are even more disturbing than the case at hand.

    Vanessa Vaile
    Retired Adjunct Instructor
    Community and advocacy blogger
    Mountainair NM

    • @Vanessa, thanks for the kind words about the reporting in this piece. It is, indeed, an important story that needs to be investigated and told.

  8. […] 16. Former Green River CC (WA) local president and WFT VP found to have embezeled funds. Adjunct Keith H… […]

  9. First, P.D. Lesko and AdjunctNation deserve credit for their investigative work in the situation at Green River Community College, which has entailed filing Freedom of Information acts and sifting through considerable data in compiling this feature, and what sounds like less than cooperative college personnel. While this is hardly a “good news” story, especially for those who know the individuals involved, one has to believe that shining a light on a situation is better than keeping it in the shadows. I hope Washington legislators are paying attention to what is happening at one of our state’s public colleges.

    Two things strike me about the GRCC situation:

    About the theft of union funds by a former union president, it seems remarkable that since GRCC faculty union officers are bonded, the disappearance of roughly $10,000 is reasoned to have caused no harm to union members, as far as local law enforcement is concerned, since the bonding company will reimburse the union of that sum. There can be no denial that a law has been broken, and the union’s decision to handle the affair internally, rather than involve law enforcement, as Lesko writes, would indeed seem parallel to Penn State’s strategy. In both cases, there has been a blatant disregard for the law. Any institution loses credibility when, instead of admitting a problem, believes that it can hide it. Such disrespect for civic responsibility and the law may be a sign of the times–it certainly contrasts with, for example, Crito where Socrates felt it better to face the law, which meant his own death, than undermine the state by trying to circumvent the law. Society had provided him and his family the good life they enjoyed.

    About reporting to law enforcement, community college faculty are commonly reminded of our obligation to report suspected child abuse to authorities–are we approaching a point in our culture when when law enforcement will decide not to investigate cases of rape or incest unless the victim can show proof of having been harmed?

    In a lighter vein, there is the description of the response to an adjunct who does not retreat at the first suggestion of trouble–it would seem that the college is unprepared for such a response. Lesko’s description is comedic. First, Dr. Hoeller hears from his dean that his division head, who happens to be the union’s head negotiator, filed a complaint against him. Next, the dean corrects that impression, saying that it was the division that filed the complaint, not an individual, which then happens to be in defiance of the union contract that stipulates that only an individual may file a complain. In the meantime, Dr. Hoeller’s requests to see evidence of the complaint itself have not been complied with. The collusion between the union and the college administration is mind-boggling and would seem to call for an independent investigation.

    With most adjuncts, the college, or the union, is probably used to getting its way with just a wink or a nod; it doesn’t expect adjuncts to have a backbone. I hope this doesn’t explain that apparent footdragging to comply with the Freedom of Information requests–with the college possibly working hand in hand with the union in allowing the union to “look into the legality of the request.”

    The feature makes for rich if troubling reading and, again, Lesko deserves credit for bringing these issues to light.

    Jack Longmate
    Adjunct English Instructor
    Olympic College, Bremerton, WA

    • @Jack, please note that while local police may (or may not) be interested in the crime, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards is the entity that would most certainly investigate and, perhaps, prosecute the theft. Thanks much for the praise of the piece and the reporting. This is the first of several pieces that will be posted. I’m gathering more information, including the original police report Mark Millbauer told AdjunctNation was filed with the Auburn Police Department.

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