AFT to investigate WTU election imbroglio
The American Federation of Teachers has launched a formal investigation into the Washington Teachers' Union's failure to hold a timely election of officers. AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a letter to WTU members Monday that members of the AFT executive council, assisted by general counsel David Strom, would try to sort out the internal conflicts that have produced a nearly two-month delay in the election of a president and other officers.
"It is apparent that in the current climate of internal struggle, a timely and properly conducted election for the officers of the WTU is not possible without intervention," Weingarten wrote.
The principal players in the dispute are the two main presidential candidates, incumbent George Parker and General Vice President Nathan Saunders. It started this spring with a dispute over the legal status of the union's internal elections committee, which was reconstituted under the guidance of the AFT in May. But the new committee, which is heavy with Saunders supporters, has taken the position that Parker is not eligible to run for reelection because he didn't submit nominating petitions by the April 30 deadline. Parker and the WTU executive committee have suspended Saunders's salary. Saunders and elections committee Chair Claudette Carson have gone to court.
And so on.
A court hearing was scheduled last Friday but then canceled, amid some indications that a settlement was in the works. But, according to Weingarten on Monday, "Despite our best efforts, the parties have been unable to resolve their differences informally."
Weingarten didn't spell it out in the letter, but the investigation could well be a prelude to AFT coming in to take over the election.
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