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AFT restarts clock for WTU election

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has intervened to end the internal scuffling that has left its local affiliate, the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) without a timely election. WTU members, who were supposed to vote on officers, executive board members and other officials in May, will now receive ballots by mid-September. A final tally will be announced Oct. 4 and the winners officially seated the following day.

The election matters because the outcome will have a significant bearing the union's level of cooperation in implementing the controversial new labor agreement, negotiated with the District by Weingarten and WTU president George Parker. General vice president Nathan Saunders, one of Parker's election opponents--along with Phelps High School teacher Elizabeth Davis--has been an outspoken critic of the deal, and a long-time adversary of Parker's.

The new schedule is one result of an AFT investigation into the mess, which examined: an attempt by an internal committee to keep Parker off the ballot because he missed an April 30 deadline for filing nominating petitions; a lawsuit filed by Saunders, charging that Parker was subverting the election process, and a decision by the WTU executive board to suspend Saunders' union salary.

Those who want to re-visit the tortured history can do so here and here.

After hearing seven hours of testimony from all the players on July 21, a three-member panel of AFT officials decided that the election process should start from scratch immediately, with all positions open to all members. The AFT will serve as a de facto elections committee, sending out notices of nominations and then handing the contest off to the American Arbitration Association, which will oversee the election. The AAA will mail the ballots, then collect, count and certify them. Saunders will also get his salary back.

In a Tuesday letter to WTU members, AFT president Randi Weingarten said that while the executive board had the authority to take Saunders off the payroll, "the timing of the decision was unfortunate, coming as it did in the midst of the contest for the presidency of the WTU."

Saunders' lawyer said Thursday that the lawsuit likely will be dropped.

Saunders, who has been at odds with Parker for years over his leadership of the union, said he was pleased with the result. "We got significant progress," Saunders said. "It's definitely viewed as a victory for me."

Parker did not respond to a request for comment.

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By Bill Turque  |  August 5, 2010; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  Washington Teachers' Union  
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Next: 2010 school-by-school DC CAS scores available


Poor DCPS teachers.
Badly served by the "all-powerful" "all-knowing" union.


Posted by: edlharris | August 5, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Why will the AFT be serving as a de facto elections committee? A proper petition, ballot and election process was completed, so there already is such a committee seated. It sounds to me like Randi is pandering, once again, to George because most of the DULY ELECTED committee members are NOT in his Parker's camp.

Even though I was not a dyed-in-the-wool Saunders fan, I will now vote for him to get rid of the Parker-Weingarten unholy alliance!

Posted by: schooletal | August 6, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

The school system is dysfunctional and the union is dysfunctional...welcome to schools of the 21st Century.

Posted by: ilcn | August 6, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Leave No Teacher Behind.

Posted by: axolotl | August 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Leave No Teacher Behind.

Posted by: axolotl | August 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the NCLB school by school report it appears that Rheeform is leaving a large number of students behind.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | August 6, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the NCLB school by school report it appears that Rheeform is leaving a large number of students behind.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | August 6, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Is the person who's over-seeing this process named G.W. "Dubya" Bush. The problem was not the was the ability to tell time...that is the problem.

How busy will September 2010 be? Hopefully, people won't get carpal-tunnel pulling on all of these levers.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 6, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Chancellor Rhee has worked WITH the unions to do what most Education CEOs cannot...allow the Chancellor to fire incompetent teachers in order to do what is in the best interest of STUDENTS! The recent fruit of her labors is seen in a recent headline that read, "Washington D.C. Fires 241 Underperforming Teachers." In addition, she placed another 737 instructors who were rated "minimally effective" on notice that they have one year to improve their performance or face dismissal. BRAVO!!!!

Ms. Rhee and her administrative team have the balls to do what is right for children (novel act of courage) and not what protects the incompetent teachers who for decades have underserved the kids and kept their jobs. She is not afraid of anyone and leaders like her are needed in urban and suburban school districts across the nation. She represents the new breed of School Superintendent, one that most principals and teachers I know would be proud to call boss!

As a former elementary principal, I applaud Ms. Rhee and ask all DC citizens and TEACHERS/PRINCIPALS to stand with her as she turns this beast around.

Posted by: Woodie731 | August 6, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

As a group, if they didn't suck at their jobs, then they'd have nothing to worry about.

Screw them all.

Posted by: veerle1 | August 6, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

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