The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees took over a Fairfax County local of the union yesterday, which represents school custodians, maintenance workers and bus drivers.
The international union froze two bank accounts, seized records and locked officials of Local 1919 out of their office in Annandale because the local had failed to pay dues for nearly a year and a half. Local leaders said they have refused to forward the money collected from members because they were not receiving promised services from the state unit.
The dispute comes at a time when unions representing Fairfax school employees are campaigning to win raises.
Fairfax Superintendent Robert R. Spillane, facing the tightest budget in years, has proposed granting no cost-of-living increases next year, and the School Board will vote Feb. 19. The union officials who shut down Local 1919 said they will take over representation of the 500 members in Fairfax.
Daisy Fann, president of Local 1919, said her unit has complained for more than five years that AFSCME Council 30, the Virginia umbrella group, has not recruited members, trained stewards, handled grievances or adequately represented its members. The council's director, Kim H. Pittman, "is lazy," Fann said.
"They're worse than management, because they're not helping the employees," she added. "They're only helping themselves."
So in September 1989, the local stopped paying Council 30 dues amounting to about $4,000 a month, although it continued paying about $2,000 a month to the international, Fann said. The money was placed in escrow at Crestar Bank, and that account, containing about $50,000, was one of two frozen by the international yesterday, according to local Treasurer Shirley Miller.
"I work too hard for my money for them to treat us like this," said Miller.
Pittman, who has overseen Council 30 for six years, portrayed the dispute as a power play by local leaders who wanted to take control of the council. "They think that because they're the biggest local, they should run the whole state council," he said.
He also disputed contentions that he had shirked his duties by not providing services, saying those duties traditionally were left to the locals.