It Took an Audit to Find $55,000 for Each of 35 Years?
Former Auburn Teachers Association (ATA) president Sally Widmer died last November after serving as president of this local affiliate for more than 35 years. Eulogized as “amazing,” and a selfless servant to the union and community, it was discovered she embezzled over $800,000 in forced dues from the local, then bequeathed $50,000 to AFT affiliate. How much will the members see of that? What is amazing is that it took a forensic audit to reveal the local was about $55,000 short on their dues payment each year. That is truly amazing, that an affiliate can be so short on its dues for so many years. Perhaps union officials didn’t need the money that badly after all.
When former Auburn Teachers Association (ATA) president Sally Jo Widmer passed away last November after more than 35 years at the helm of the small New York teachers’ union, former Auburn mayor Guy Cosentino eulogized her as “a true union leader who put her union first and personal niceties second.”
Members were informed this week that Widmer misappropriated at least $800,000 in union dues during the period 2006-2012. “It appears that money earmarked for the Association was instead used for meals, gasoline, trips, gambling, clothing, grocery shopping – and for cash advances,” wrote new ATA president Cheryl Miskell. ”Because some old financial records are unavailable, we may never know the full extent of the misappropriations.”
This prodigious feat of embezzlement was accomplished in a union of 390 members, whose share of dues income ranged from $89,000 to $132,000 per year. It is highly likely that Widmer stole money earmarked for transfer to the New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers (similar to a case in Maryland). NYSUT records indicate that ATA was consistently behind on its dues payments by approximately $55,000 each year.