Former Providence union boss charged with embezzling from union

Jo-Anne Micheletti is accused of embezzling money while president of Providence’s school clerical workers’ union. (Photos: RI State Police/WPRI-TV)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The former president of Providence’s school clerical workers’ union was arrested Tuesday on charges that she embezzled funds from her union.

Jo-Anne Micheletti, who left her post as president of Local 1339 last year for a higher-paying administrative job in the school department, is accused of making $6,946 in unauthorized withdrawals from a union account between 2014 and 2016, according to a State Police affidavit obtained by Eyewitness News.

The affidavit states there was $1,129 unaccounted for after Micheletti made several deposits to the union account.

Micheletti was arraigned before a justice of the peace. Her next scheduled court appearance is July 10.

“It’s very disappointing,” Charlene Vela, the current president of the union, said. “I had a great relationship with her, but it’s disappointing.”

Micheletti did not respond to a request for comment Friday. A spokesperson for the school department said Micheletti has not been suspended from her job “at this time.”

Local 1339 is affiliated with AFSCME Council 94. Vela said she went to Council 94 when she discovered money was missing and they recommended the union hire a firm to conduct a forensic audit.

Vela said the union’s 192 members pay about $50 per month in union dues, which is divided up by Council 94 and Local 1339. The average school clerical worker in the city earns $41,500 a year, payroll records show. Vela said the union account currently has about $9,000 and is typically used for stipends for board members.

Micheletti faced criticism from her colleagues for leaving the $50,000 a year union job to become the district’s $75,748 a year timekeeper administrator last year.

The new position came after she negotiated a new three-year contract for the union that was viewed as a victory for the Elorza administration. The deal included a 1.75% pay increase on July 1 and a 3% increase on July 1, 2017, but also eliminated two steps of longevity pay for senior employees.

With Micheletti as president, the union also agreed to a restructuring of the central office to the school department that was designed to place more clerical workers directly into schools.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan