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Weingarten to WTU: Comply or else

AFT president Randi Weingarten says Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker has until noon Tuesday to comply with an Aug. 4 order to hold a mid-September election for new officers and delegates, or the contest will be taken out of his hands and conducted by the national parent organization.

In a letter to Parker on Monday, Weingarten said that unless AFT gets "an unequivocal sworn undertaking" from WTU complying with the order, an administrator "will be appointed effective forthwith and without further notice to restore the rights of members ... to secure and safeguard the vital records and assets of the WTU from immediate threat, and to take such actions as are necessary to protect the interests of the membership."

Elections were scheduled for May but held up because of a dispute over the legitimacy of an internal committee that handles some aspects of the contest. Parker and the union's executive committee reset the election for late November, contending that they wouldn't have accurate membership lists until later in the new school year. Also swirling in the mix is the long time feud between Parker and general vice president Nathan Saunders, once allies, but now opponents in the presidential race. The executive board voted to eliminate Saunders's $131,000 annual salary and withheld renewal of his leave of absence from classroom duties because of what it characterized as his refusal to account for the time he has spent on union business.

But after a July 21st hearing at AFT headquarters, Weingarten ordered a mid-September election with ballots to be counted Oct. 4, and said anyone who was an active member June 30 was eligible to vote. She also ordered Saunders placed back on the union payroll, calling the timing of the decision to zero out his salary "unfortunate."

In an Aug. 13 letter asking Weingarten to reconsider, Parker said Saunders is strictly a WTU matter. He also said the election orders are illegal and step on the prerogatives of the WTU executive committee. He contended that the June 30 eligibility cut-off would effectively disenfranchise hundreds of new teachers now in the process of signing up for union membership. (What he didn't say is that it might also allow teachers fired or excessed after that date -- union members who may might not look so favorably on reelecting Parker -- access to a ballot).

"We are greatly concerned about the damage caused by AFT's actions here," wrote Parker, who declined to comment on Weingarten's ultimatum early Monday evening because he had not spoken with his lawyers.

By Bill Turque  |  August 16, 2010; 6:27 PM ET
 
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Comments

Wow! What a blessing this is to Fenty and Rhee.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 16, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Forget about Rhee & Fenty!

George Parker thinks he is a one man show. This sell-out contract that he shoved down the throats of unsuspecting union members is awful and members will have to live with it for the rest of their careers or until they are IMPACTED out, whichever comes first.

Parker has forgotten who he represents. Well let me remind him...the teachers, the dues paying teachers who count on the union to provide job security, fair wages and working conditions; the people who pay his salary.

George Parker has disrespected the union members, he has disenfranchised the 2007, 2008, and 2009 retirees, he has disregarded the teachers who were rif'd in October and now he has shown disdain for the national AFT.

What next? Shall we crown him King?

I think NOT! I say, throw the bum out of office!

Posted by: teachdc | August 17, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

This makes no sense what is wrong with George. Is he that scared of losing to Nathan so that the teachers can finaly get some consistant and strong leadership. I guess George did not want us to find out about all those side deals he has been making with Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson for the last three years.

Posted by: reneeinc | August 17, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

On June 21, 2010, George testified at the DC City Council hearing that he was the only individual as WTU President to have the authority to ratify the new WTU Contract with Rhee.

Also, George stated that he allowed the WTU membership to vote as a "COURTESY." However, the WTU membership vote did not count!!

Colleagues exercise your right to vote for a New WTU President in September 2010 - WTU Elections. Vote for a new President who has integrity and character.

Thanks Randi for holding George accountable. We can do better with a New DC Mayor, WTU President and a fiscally responsible, qualified, certified, as well as experienced Superintendent in 2010.

Enough is Enough!

Posted by: sheilahgill | August 17, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

She should have shown Rhee that kind of spunk. Maybe there would have been a better contract,it would not have taken so long and Baltimore's former mayor would not have been needed as a mediator.

Posted by: candycane1 | August 17, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

@sheliagill and @candycane1 I will co-sign on both of your comments! Right-On!

Posted by: fivetogo | August 17, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I never thought I'd say this but DCPS is worse that it was when I started teaching here 8 years ago. Michelle Rhee is a disaster and George Parker is a nightmare.

Who will end this madness?

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 17, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

George Parker is a desperate man who wants to remain in office at any cost. Parker participated in the AFT hearing and when he didn't get the outcome he wanted then he refused to follow the AFT Executive Council's order. Parker lacks integrity and is a first class screw up.

Parker needs to be thrown out of office immediately. I salute AFT in this one instance. Go Randi,kick the bum out and take control oF WTU until the election. Lets hurry up and send Parker packing.b Rhee and Fenty are next.

Posted by: teacherspet | August 17, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

If the above commentors are correct about the DCPS contract, perhaps it can be invalidated.

I'm so glad Randi and her top attorneys will be able to provide the DC teachers with the representation they should have had all along. I think we can all expect to see some positive changes for students and teachers in the near future.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 18, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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