unions

Georgia Guercio / Wikipedia

The former head of the Broward Teacher’s Union is facing new criminal charges.

Pat Santeramo has been charged with mail fraud for misappropriating more than $35,000.

Investigators say Santeramo took money intended for teacher training, speakers or special projects and instead paid himself and another union employee.

He could serve up to 20 years in prison for each of the two charges.

His attorney says Santeramo will fight the charges.

It's just the latest criminal charges for the former union boss.

steveearly.org

01/07/15 - Wednesday’s Topical Currents is a visit by journalist, labor activist and attorney Steve Early.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Broward County school and union leaders want to make changes to test-based teacher evaluations and the county's high school schedule.

Florida law requires half of a teacher's evaluation score to be based on whether students miss, meet or exceed expected results on state tests.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

At a Spanish restaurant in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, one of the most powerful women in education, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, pumps up union members by telling them where her career started – the cafeteria.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia is the first Latina elected to lead the nation’s largest union – the National Education Association.

Thursday was her fourth day on the job. She started at 6 a.m. with a tour of the Keys by plane. She followed with visits to Allapattah Middle School and Hialeah High School in Miami-Dade County.

Monocle / Flickr

When Florida first approved its private school tax credit scholarship program in 2001, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said education groups questioned the legality, but no one really objected to helping low-income students get out of low-performing schools.

But then the scholarship program started to grow. Lawmakers approved a law that automatically expanded the program each year. Then earlier this year lawmakers raised the income cap. Now, a family of four earning $62,000 can receive a partial scholarship.

Losia Nyankale, 29, didn't mean to make a career in the restaurant business. But after Nyankale was in college for two years, her mom lost her job as a schoolteacher and could no longer pay tuition. Then, Nyankale's temp jobs in bookkeeping dried up in the recession. So she went back to her standby — restaurant work.

"I did some kitchen work. The pantries or the salad station," she says. "I've also managed, supervised, wash[ed] dishes."

Jordan Michael/WLRN

The Florida House has passed a bill that would preempt local living wage ordinances and a similar version is making its way through the Senate.

The House measure would not allow local governments to mandate that their vendors pay employees more than a set minimum or provide them with special work-related benefits.

The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.