Members of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association want to know how their dues are being spent after the union’s lawyer told its executive board there had been a drain on the organization’s war chest for battling the city over police contracts.
The Journal has confirmed that APOA members voted last week to hire an outside firm to audit the union’s finances for the past two years and to require more financial accountability going forward. Members also will consider next month whether the president’s and vice president’s union salaries should be cut.
The moves followed revelations at Thursday’s APOA meeting from union President Joey Sigala that he and Vice President Felipe Garcia have paid themselves more in salary from union dues than they previously acknowledged publicly, and that Sigala’s wife was paid about $6,000 for working on “special projects” and filling in as a temporary administrative secretary.
Neither Sigala nor Garcia responded to requests for comment. Several other board members also did not respond to emails or telephone calls.
However, APD officer and union representative Anthony Andolina confirmed what took place at the meeting.
A February email sent by union lawyer Fred Mowrer to members of the APOA board mentioned $259,000 in dues spent during the past two years, much of it on salaries for the union president and vice president.
Andolina confirmed that members voted last week for the following measures:
♦ Union officials will be required to provide members a detailed accounting of income and expenses at each APOA meeting beginning next month.
♦ Along with voting for a new vice president at the union’s April meeting, members will consider whether to limit the president’s salary to $12,000 a year and cap the vice president’s pay at $10,000 annually. Both would have to account for all hours worked. Both also receive their regular salaries from the city.
Andolina confirmed that Sigala and Garcia said during the meeting that they had paid themselves about $36,000 and $28,000, respectively, in dues-funded salaries last year.
Sigala last month told the Journal he receives about $26,000 annually for union work – on top of his $52,374 APD salary – and Garcia makes $19,500 a year plus his city salary, which is the same as Sigala’s.
The stipends, Sigala has said, are for 20 hours of union work per week at $25 an hour for himself and 15 hours at $25 per hour for Garcia. Neither Sigala nor Garcia has a regular APD assignment, meaning they are paid city salaries for doing union work.
The union sued Mayor Richard Berry in 2010, contending he illegally backed out of an agreement signed by the previous administration to raise APD pay. The city won the first round, but the union appealed to the state Court of Appeals, which hasn’t yet ruled.
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal