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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.

By Bill Turque  |  July 12, 2010; 6:11 PM ET
 
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Comments

As a DCPS teacher and WTU member, this is completely embarrassing. It further makes teachers in DC look bad--as if we needed any more bad press! Please, AFT, come in and take over!!! Better yet, I wish we could affiliate with NEA instead. They are much better organized and have a much better reputation.

Bottom line: Parker needs to hang it up. I'm not that thrilled with Saunders either but Parker is powerless and doesn't have the guts to stand up to Rhee. He sold teachers out on the new contract. Bye George.

In fact, the whole leadership of WTU needs to be flushed out--including the tired and ineffective field reps. It's time for some newer, younger and more diverse blood in WTU so it can better and more accurately represent the current teaching workforce in DC.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 12, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on almost all points, UrbanDweller!

While I agree we need newer and more diverse blood in the union leadership, younger does not necessarily mean better. There is something to be said for persons well-versed--and practiced--in union matters.

Posted by: schooletal | July 12, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

*persons being well-versed . . .*

Posted by: schooletal | July 12, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't stand Nathan Saunders, but it is embarrassing that the AFT, which completely ignored years of theft by a former union president, is so eager to get involved in this election. It's pretty clear that if you fail to get your nomination petitions in on time, you don't get to run for office.

I realize that Randi wants to have George Parker in office, but completely bending the rules to resubmit petitions because of a technicality is pathetic.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 13, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I've never heard of anything like this occurring in Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax, or Frederick County unions. Aren't yearly elections of the Board of Directors or officers required and scheduled in the union's calendar? Doesn't WTU have bylaws and a constitution?

Posted by: lacy4 | July 13, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

The contract was negotiated by Parker, Rhee and company...but it was ratified by the union membership. Therefore, I can't see where Parker was in error...he has done no more than what his predecessor [Bullock] would have done. Do not lest not forget the kick-off rallies at the Convention Center...that was sponsored by WTU and there were viewed as a basic pep-rally for Vance. Gee-whiz Parker was step-n-fetch-it for Janey...as long as there was a Carstarphen around...Parker was skinning and grinning.

To the poster, who uses the coded words of diversity needed, and may I ask the question, why? I would think that perecentage wide, that the union is representative by majority of the diverse work-force pretty accurately. Too paraphrase your words, if younger does not equate "better", then diverse blood should not equate that "best" will be presented as in a person being well-versed. C'mon Randi is white and George is black, how more diverse can you get. Both are at the helm of the union issues either locally or nationally for DCPS.

What is union-matters? Negotiations are what every two-years at the most...but are y'all saying that Parker is failing in the day-to-day operations of the union?

I think WTU should stand for What's the Uproar?

Posted by: PowerandPride | July 13, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

To the poster who has a problem with diversity and cites Randi's and George's ethnicities as being all the diversity needed (WTH?!), I ask, "How obtuse can you be?" What are you afraid of?" I don't have to use code words. I say EXACTLY what I mean!

Furthermore, I have no problem with new or diverse members AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, but I do have a problem with a younger person being appointed to a position solely because of his/her youth without the requisite skill set and experience to represent the union's members effectively. (And in case you were wondering, it's a given that the "new" and "diverse" reps would have to possess the same qualities.)

Posted by: schooletal | July 13, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

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