- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

The parent organization of the Washington Teachers’ Union said officials have fixed problems that federal regulators found in the local organization’s 2005 financial report.

The Department of Labor said last week that it was looking into unspecified deficiencies in the union’s fiscal 2005 financial filing, which was due in the fall. A Labor Department spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the problems.

A spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which oversees the Washington Teachers’ Union, called the problems “routine technical shortcomings.”

A Labor Department investigator contacted the union in January over “some procedural questions in nature” and added that there were “no questions of financial improprieties,” AFT spokesman Alexander Wohl said.

Mr. Wohl said the Labor Department’s questions concerned “expense classifications and the treatment of election costs subsequently repaid.”

Another problem was that the union did not file its financial report electronically, sending a paper copy and a computer disk.

“This is truly a case of routine technical shortcomings in the filing of union forms,” Mr. Wohl said.

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, said yesterday that he welcomes outside financial monitoring of the union, which returned to local control last year after an embezzlement landed its former president in prison.

“Whatever questions there were have been worked out,” Mr. Parker said.

The Labor Department last month sued the local union in federal court in the District to void the results of union elections in December 2004 and January 2005.

Citing ineligible voters and members who did not receive ballots, the department wants a federal judge to order new elections.

The department also states that officials failed to mail election notices and ballots to all members.

The AFT, which ran the local elections, said questions about the union’s annual financial report and the election dispute are unrelated issues.

George Springer, the AFT administrator who oversaw the voting, said officials made “an extensive effort” to reach the local union’s membership.

But the Labor Department’s court complaint says the election irregularities “may have affected the outcome of the defendant’s elections.”

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