Parker: New contract ready after spring break
Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker e-mailed and robo-called members late Wednesday night to say that he hoped details of the long-awaited labor pact with DCPS would be available as early as their return from spring break on April 6. (Break begins Friday).
There have been numerous "peace is at hand" declarations throughout the tortured two-year-plus course of talks between WTU and D.C. Public Schools, but this looks like the real deal. Both sides have been discussing the details of a roll out strategy, and Parker said in the e-mail that informational sessions will be set up for teachers to ask questions about the accord, which is expected to give Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee more latitude to replace ineffective teachers and set up a limited pay-for-performance system.
One big reason the pace has clearly picked up is because Rhee and Parker both know that they are working against the clock. Parker faces a challenge from general vice president Nathan Saunders in union elections scheduled for May. Without a contract that puts new money in the pockets of teachers who haven't had a raise in close to three years, he could face a tough race. In Saunders, Rhee would be dealing with a new union president who has been among her most outspoken critics.
Here's the full text of Parker's e-mail:
March 24, 2010
Dear WTU Member:
I am pleased to inform you that the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) is finalizing discussions with D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) on a new tentative contract agreement (TA). There still are a few technical issues we are working to resolve, but I hope to have an announcement and details on the new TA ready when you return from spring break. Shortly after your return, all members will receive an update outlining the next steps toward our new contract. In the meantime, I have impressed upon DCPS that it is imperative they move with all expediency to resolve the outstanding issues.
I am confident that the document we are crafting is an innovative agreement that provides a path toward the goal of supporting effective teaching and learning in our schools. In the coming weeks, we expect to make an official announcement of the TA. Immediately following the announcement, members will receive an information packet containing a copy of the tentative agreement, a TA summary and highlights, and a "Q&A" focusing on key changes in the agreement.
We will schedule a series of Contract Informational Sessions to give members a forum to ask questions and get further clarification on the TA. Finally, members will have an opportunity to participate in a secret ballot vote on the new agreement.
I want to commend the members of the WTU Negotiations Team for their hard work and commitment to bargaining a contract that will be good for students and fair to teachers.
Thank you for your continued patience and support throughout this process.
March 25, 2010; 6:47 AM ET
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