Oct 12, 2008

Class Dismissed !

A Glimpse into a WTU Executive Board meeting: I was at a loss for words when WTU President George Parker 'banged the gavel' announcing the October 11th executive board meeting was adjourning early at 11 a.m. Given that we had conducted little business and DC Teachers have lost millions of dollars in a retroactive increase- I was frankly surprised especially since our teacher pay package/tentative agreement is still in limbo. I like some of my fellow executive board members had come to this meeting with the explicit purpose of inquiring about the status of an incomplete tentative agreement and report of a possible impasse as well as the WTU's future plans.

What I heard from George Parker's lips was news to me that Washington Post reporter Bill Turque misquoted him in a recent Post October 3rd article citing that the union may be headed towards arbitration . In this story Turque reported that Parker stated that the union would take whatever steps necessary to protect its members, including "court proceedings, arbitration and teacher job actions."

In this Saturday's Board meeting -Parker said:
The WTU has not yet concluded teacher contract negotiations. Really ??? The WTU plans to continue to advocate for a teacher contract that includes due process rights and serves the children of DC Public Schools . Neither side seems headed for impasse despite Rhee's recent announcement in The Washington Afro which stated that she will forgo stalled talks and take matters into her own hands.

Parker admits he has yet to meet with the WTU negotiating team to discuss the future of our teacher contract talks. What is he waiting for ?

While George Bordenave, the AFT National representative was requested (by Parker) to not be involved in DC teacher contract talks despite a written contract with AFT - President Parker is now reportedly working closely with AFT to address many issues affecting contract negotiations. Attorney Lee Jackson has been contacted and will attend the Thursday, October 23, 2008 Executive Board meeting from 5:30-6:30 p.m. to discuss next steps.

The WTU has sent out a 3 page mailing to DC teachers (dated October 9th) about the facts on teacher evaluations, 90 day plan, corporal punishment and disciplinary actions, abolishment of positions and right-sizing, termination of highly qualified teachers and WTU next steps.

I agree with part of Walter Wood's letter to the editor in the Friday October 10th Post editorial (page A18) in which he stated "I am appalled that George Parker, the Washington Teachers' Union president, is not willing to show leadership and move the negotiations along..... Mr. Parker must step up to the plate and lead. " Now is not the time for class to let out early ! DC teachers biggest roadblock to reaching a tentative agreement is the failure of our union president to make a decision by either resuming teacher contract talks, bringing the tentative agreement to a membership vote or declaring an impasse.
Stay tuned for more as the saga continues on stalled DC teacher contract talks. Posted by The Washington Teacher.


mommilan&jr said...

This is a work of art! I love this Candi...good work! Let's bring this to a vote! What is going on down at L'Enfant Plaza???... I should have been there! Remind me next time would ya?

Partofthesolution said...

Candi, it sounds like you might be singing a different tune now that Plan B is on the table... I find it ironic that you're upset about the retroactive pay. We all knew the retroactive pay increases were tied up in the contract. I also find it ironic that you are quoting Walter Wood, whose letter supported the contract and Rhee -- your readers should read the entire editorial. (Here is one of the parts I agreed with, "I cringe at the pay we provide teachers. Teachers who deliver deserve better pay, and those who do not deliver need to find work elsewhere.") Last, are you suggesting that this contract should be moved to a tentative agreement? If so, wow, we finally agree on something.

Candi said...

My concern is that our union president must take the lead. For 11 months both sides have been in contract negotiations. Surely a decision must be made on what the next steps will be. It is incumbent for both sides to either decide to resume contract negotiations and come to some type of tentative agreement, or put the tentative agreement to a membership vote (assuming one is available) or declare an impasse.

Unfortunately, our members have not yet seen a completed tentative agreement - to date. This is a requirement of contract negotiations. We have only seen the compensation portion which is not a tentative agreement. As I suggested in my piece - there comes a time when a leader must take the lead and must ultimately make a decision one way or the other no matter how popular or unpopular that decision might be.

It is not that I am upset about the loss of retroactive pay but concerned that we aren't moving forward. Of course it is troubling for members to lose any amount of a retroactive increase especially since we have been down this road before. As for the 90 day plan the chancellor references in her plan B- this has always been available to rid our school system of ineffective teachers but also requires that principals and/or administrators do their job by putting the necessary administrative supports in place to help underperforming teachers while adhering to predetermined guidelines that they often fail to follow. I am not singing a different tune- I am singing the same tune as I always have. Provide the members with as much information as possible so that they can make their own informed decisions. My advocacy for release of the legal opinion by O'Donnell, Schwartz and Anderson was so that our members would have all the information to decide what is in their best interests once the completed tentative agreement comes to a vote.

DC Teacher Chic said...

There is a petition going around to urge George Parker to move this forward into a tentative agreement - please sign!


Anonymous said...

I want to vote on a contract that not only increases pay but ensures that all teachers have due process rights.

Why does Rhee feel compelled to make teachers 'at will'? If she wants to fire incompetent teachers she should but she should not be allowed to fire teachers without having a documented paper trail as to their ineffectiveness. If the teacher is awful there should be documentation proving it. This seems pretty simple and straight forward to me.

I also do not think that we should get rid of seniority for all teachers as Rhee proposes. We can have seniority while getting rid of bad teachers. Why do we all need to be punished?

Anonymous said...

George Parker is not a leader. Any contract negotiated by him will lead to the dismal of teachers. Why is he still President of WTU? A petition to move the proposal is funny. What proposal? Has anyone seen a tentative agreement? We all need more money. We also need to respect hardworking educators. Get a real contract that has a chance to pass! It won't be negotiated by GP.