Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

E-mail Bill | RSS Feed | In-depth coverage: Education Page | Follow The Post's education coverage: Twitter | Facebook

AFT headed back into D.C. union election mess

An "exasperated" American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten is poised to step back into the Washington Teachers' Union election, now locked up in a lawsuit.

The contest to elect union officers was supposed to be held in May, with the winners taking office on July 1. But a series of internal disputes have landed the matter in D.C. Superior Court, where WTU general vice president Nathan Saunders, a candidate for the top spot, has accused incumbent George Parker of attempting to manipulate union rules to subvert the election.

Among other things, the suit alleges that Parker has withheld key documents from the union's elections committee and that the WTU executive board has improperly cut off Saunders' salary and put off the election until the fall.

A hearing on the suit, first reported by the Washington City Paper, was scheduled for Tuesday but then taken off the court calendar after Weingarten held a two-hour conference call Thursday evening with Parker, Saunders and their lawyers.

"I am exasperated with all sides," Weingarten said Tuesday in a phone interview from Seattle, where the AFT is holding its annual convention. "I said that it is our position that the elections process must commence immediately. I was also concerned that the executive board removed a candidate for president's salary."

Weingarten said she was not sure exactly what role AFT would take, but that the union "was reviewing all the options."

Jay R. Holland, Saunders' attorney, said all sides were "exploring ways to get the issues resolved and we hope to do so. If we cannot we will ask court to promptly put [the case] back on the calendar."

AFT already intervened once earlier this spring, after Parker disclosed that he had not filed petitions for renomination by the April 30 deadline. AFT essentially voided the due date, met by Saunders and the other presidential candidate, Phelps HS teacher Elizabeth Davis, because the union's internal elections committee, which oversees balloting, did not have the required 15 members. At the end of May, AFT supervised elections for a new elections panel, which was supposed to start the petition process all over again.

The problem for Parker was that it was filled with Saunders and Davis supporters. The complaint, brought by Saunders and elections committee chair Claudette Carson, said Parker repeatedly ignored the committee's requests to deliver nominating petitions and union membership lists so that the panel could begin administering the elections. The suit asks restoration of Saunders' salary, committee access to member lists and that Parker's name be kept off the ballot.

WTU attorneys say the matter belongs not in court but with the District of Columbia Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), the administrative agency that is supposed to enforce union standards of conduct.

Weingarten and Parker led WTU's negotiation of the new teachers contract with the District. The WTU's next president will have some influence over how the details of the deal are implemented. Saunders has been an outspoken critic of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. But Weingarten said that is not why she is intervening.

"There's always that concern, but that's not a constitutional concern," she said. "The members have a right to an election."

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at
And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers,
please check out our new Higher Education page at
Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  |  July 6, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
Categories:  Washington Teachers' Union  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rhee: Gray's "disdain" no secret
Next: Did Michelle Rhee violate the Hatch Act?


"I am exasperated with all sides,"
Why with Saunders?

Posted by: edlharris | July 6, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm exasperated with Randi's antics!

Posted by: schooletal | July 6, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

As it was (and is) time for a change in leadership in DCPS, it's also time for a change in leadership in the WTU. Parker needs to step down and the whole executive board and the field reps. need to be flushed out. It's well past time for some new (and racially diverse) blood in WTU leadership.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 6, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I do not understand, for the life of me, why George Parker believes he has the right to hold up a union election. Most of us know that he is just waiting for those who retired, terminated or those who separated from DCPS to fall off the WTU membership list because with those people he doesn't stand a snowballs chance in
h_ _ _. Most of us know that he is counting on Rhee's 500 teacher newbies, who won't know George Parker from a hole in the wall--but they will get all the WTU recruitment gear with Parker's name splashed all over it--

It's so sad that he has to resort to these antics----

George, let your people go!

Posted by: teachdc | July 7, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

George "low down" Parker is a disgrace not only to the WTU but all teachers of the DCPS.

Geroge knows that he will lose if an election is held and obviously Rhee and Fenty have not found a hole for him to crawl into yet. Once he is guaranteed a job for his betrayal of DCPS teachers, he will gladly leave.

George's actions clearly represent why he supports Fenty and Rhee.


Posted by: guylady20101 | July 7, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company