The Broward Teachers Union has suffered a devastating loss. Not the arrest of its former President, but the money it lost to his thefts. By funneling extra money from 20 or more inflated work contracts and a forged document that entitled him to unearned sick leave and vacation pay, Pat Santeramo bled the union for $187,000 dollars. He also misused their credit cards and unwisely spent much of the $3.8 million the union had in reserve.
All of this amid a vicious round of education budget cuts, benefit cuts, and salary system changes. Itâ€™s a basic concept of military strategy: divide and conquer. Shame that Santreramo seems to have divided his own side pretty effectively.
Santeramo seems convinced that he didn’t do anything wrong, however. Â According to his lawyer, he believes that he was honest in his dealings with the BTU, and that this is simply another battle in the war against organized labor in America. Â Nevermind that it’s his own union raising these charges against him and the sheriff’s office believes that the majority of money he stole from the union was used to buy a vacation home.
However, he did resign from his post last year- the day before he was to face an expulsion hearing from the union board.
In an attempt to salvage something out of all of this, the BTU hired legal expert Kendall Coffey, who commented that this kind of behavior is hardly limited to union bosses. He suggested that many people with power lose sight of where it comes from, and begin to see the organization they control as part of them, and what is good for them is good for the organization.