UTD Corruption Timeline

March
2000

UTD Vice President Arrested for Purchase and Possession of Crack Cocaine

UTD’s current First Vice President, Antonio “Tony” White, is arrested for purchase and possession of crack cocaine. This led to a two-year suspension of White’s Florida Educator’s Certificate, yet he maintained his leadership role with UTD.

April
2003

FBI Raids UTD Headquarters

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raids the UTD headquarters facility during an investigation regarding potential misappropriation of union funds.

September
2003

UTD President Takes $3.5 Million of Membership Dues for Personal Use

An audit released by the American Federation of Teachers reveals that UTD officials misused or diverted $3.5 million of membership dues. At least $2.5 million was stolen by UTD President Pat Tornillo to fund personal vacations, in-home servants, exorbitant life insurance policies, and excessive luxuries. A plea agreement landed Tornillo in federal prison for two years, in addition to an obligation to return $650,000 in stolen funds to the union.

June
2004

UTD Sells Headquarters to Cut Debt Caused by Mismanaged Funds

UTD is forced to sell its headquarters facility for $22 million to cut debt caused by mismanaged funds.

November
2005

UTD Suspends Whistleblower Who Reported Corruption

UTD’s Chief Financial Officer James Angleton, Jr., who reported mismanagement of union funds to the FBI, is suspended from UTD without pay. In addition, UTD files suit against Angleton, claiming that the union was a victim of the CFO’s “professional negligence” for not reporting sooner.

October
2006

UTD Secretary-Treasurer Suspended

During a UTD Council of Stewards Meeting, Secretary-Treasurer Pamela Sturrup accused President Karen Aronowitz of signing a promissory note without informing the executive board. On October 23, UTD’s executive board drafted a letter claiming that Sturrup was the source of “misrepresentations and misinformation.” Charging Sturrup with dereliction of duty, the board suspended the Secretary-Treasurer from the union.

December
2008

UTD Rejects Program that Would Incentivize Teacher Performance

UTD files a lawsuit against the Special Teachers Are Rewarded (STAR) Program that would give bonuses to the top twenty-five percent of teachers who raise student test scores, rejecting $19.6 million in additional funding.

2010

UTD Faces Accusations, Lawsuit Related to Fraudulent Elections

UTD member Geno Perez files a lawsuit in response to the union’s alleged election fraud. During the 2010 election, votes from sixteen schools were invalidated, drastically skewing results.

October
2010

UTD Reverses Position on Race to the Top Participation

United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz acknowledges that participation in the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program “undermines our collective bargaining agreement.” Further, Aronowitz argued that UTD was “strongly opposed to DOE’s complete disregard for the needs of our students and teachers,” promising UTD members that she would “never sign an agreement that puts our contracts in jeopardy and ignores the voices of educators.” Despite this, Aronowitz signed UTD up for participation in the program in October 2010.

2013

UTD Faces Additional Accusations Related to Fraudulent Elections

Data from UTD’s 2013 presidential election suggests that while 7,602 votes were cast, just 7,238 ballots were collected. As a result, UTD receives additional criticism for fraudulent election policies and procedures.

Summer
2013

Frontline Caucus Takes Over UTD, Fails to Defend Members

UTD new leadership, spearheaded by members of the Frontline Caucus, reveals complicity between the union and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Union members allege that UTD failed to bargain for lower class sizes and substitute coverage while refusing to defend members from M-DCPS harassment.

Summer
2015

UTD Leadership Takes Hypocritical Stance on Standardized Testing

UTD leaders Fed Ingram and Karla Hernandez-Matz have expressed continued opposition to standardized testing, including opting their own children out of exam requirements. Despite this, Hernandez-Matz personally contacted the president of the South Florida AFL-CIO Central Labor Council to revoke the membership of the Grassroots Education Movement of Miami, a group that proposed a grassroots, county-wide opt out campaign for standardized testing.

June
2015

UTD Leadership Makes Racist Remarks at Union Workshop

During a UTD workshop surrounding immigration issues, UTD President Karla Hernandez-Matz made racist comments, referring to all African American members in attendance as “these Africans.”

September
2015

UTD Abolishes Step Schedule for Teacher Salary

Suggesting that Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ step schedule for teacher salary increases would not comply with Florida law, UTD President Fed Ingram endorses the abolishment of the program. A rejection of the step schedule resulted in suppression of salaries for mid- to late-career teachers, resulting in significant savings for the school district. Contrary to Ingram’s argument, Florida law provides protections for the step schedule in public schools.

January
2016

UTD Leadership Candidate Arrested Three Times for Possession of Crack Cocaine

UTD leadership candidate Alton Roberts, a physical education teacher and coach at Miami Norland Senior High School is sanctioned by the Florida Department of Education for failing to report two arrests related to the purchase and possession of crack cocaine. Roberts was arrested for cocaine-related infractions in 1990, 2005, and 2011.

March
2017

UTD Supports MDCPS Funds Allocated to Construction over Teacher Pay

From 2009 to 2016, Miami-Dade County Public Schools diverted $127 million to construction and capital while telling teachers that the district did not have the funds necessary to increase pay. UTD supported the district’s misleading claims, insisting that M-DCPS was “maxed out on its funding.”

November
2017

UTD Shop Steward Arrested for Sexual Assault of Underage Students

Wendell Nibbs, UTD shop steward of eight years, is arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting nine underage students during his fifteen-year tenure at Brownsville Middle School. According to another UTD steward, Nibbs was the union leadership’s “attack dog”: “Any time someone opposed leadership, he stood up and said something. He was one of the loudest voices who said, ‘Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

December
2017

UTD President Arrested in Washington, D.C.

UTD President Katla Hernandez-Matz is arrested on the steps of the United States Capitol for failure to disperse during a pro-immigration rally in Washington, D.C.

December
2017

M-DCPS and UTD Fail to Utilize $50 Million Surplus for Teacher Pay

UTD’s removal of the step schedule for teacher pay allowed Miami-Dade County Public Schools to transition to a percentage-based salary advancement system, resulting in a $200 million decrease in spending. A 2017 bargaining session between UTD and M-DCPS revealed that $50 million was transferred to the district’s general fund just weeks after teachers voted to approve a 2-2.6% raise. It remains unclear why this funding was not utilized for teacher pay.

June
2020

UTD Contract Disappoints Members

On June 16, MDCPS and UTD reached a tentative contract agreement after thirteen rounds of negotiations. A group of members from UTD’s bargaining unit, known as the Rank and File Educators of Miami (RFEM), expressed concerns with the contract, citing issues such as salary compression, weak raises, rising insurance costs, among others. RFEM members identified additional issues with UTD’s rushed voting timeline that would not allow members sufficient time to make an educated decision about the contract.

August
2022

AFT Sends $500k to Former UTD President Campaign

The American Federation of Teachers contribute $500,000 to Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor – the largest contribution received by the Crist campaign in the 2022 election cycle. Just weeks later, former UTD President Karla Hernandez-Matz is announced at Crist’s running mate.

August
2022

Hernandez-Matz Physically Accosts Constituent

During her tenure as Charlie Crist’s running mate, former UTD President Karla Hernandez-Matz physically and verbally accosts a constituent who called for her to be fired.

November
2023

UTD Dues Reach New High

UTD dues are at an all-time high, requiring that members pay $984.60 each year. With some of the steepest dues rates in the nation, in addition to UTD’s history of corruption, it’s unclear what benefits UTD members receive in return.

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