May 13, 2010

Open Letter To AFT President Randi Weingarten From WTU Executive Board Members

This open letter below was sent to me by Washington Teachers' Union Executive Board members, Willie Brewer, Agnes Dyson and Sheila Gill who were wrongfully terminated in what many believe was a manufactured reduction in force created by the Rhee administration. Their email is addressed to American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President, Randi Weingarten requesting that our national union order that all 265 wrongfully terminated union members be reinstated their full membership rights pursuant to AFT's Constitution. - Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

May 13, 2010

Dear President Randi Weingarten,

As you well know, we are elected WTU Executive Board members who were laid off October 2, 2009. We have been denied our right to complete our elected term of office and right to continue our membership by WTU President George Parker. As a result, 265 other WTU members have been damaged by the loss of health insurance and other membership benefits directly attributable to these actions. Upon attempting to maintain those benefits, we were provided misinformation including a WTU parliamentary opinion thereby robbing us of our rights as a WTU, AFT, and AFL-CIO members. At no time were we advised of AFT’s constitution addressing the laid off member policy by the aforementioned or AFT personnel. AFT Constitution & Bylaws, art. III - Membership, §6, cl. C.

After our own research yielded the above, President Parker undertook obstreperous actions to disallow WTU Executive Board members consideration of our concerns. Constitutionally mandated Union meetings-executive board, delegate assembly and membership meetings- are often cancelled or they do not have voting quorums and are held in place which we are barred (DCPS and the WTU offices). This complaint/notice informs you that WTU is not being managed according to its constitution or AFT’s and AFT’s representative agents, Mr. George Bordenave and Mr. Jody Easley, sit idle while these significant violations transpire.

Since a fair hearing of our concerns are not available at our local union level, we must exhaust all intra union remedies. We are requesting you to inform us in writing, with the necessary citations, of our rights to complete our elected term of office as WTU officers. Furthermore, we are requesting you to order all 265 wrongfully terminated teachers full membership rights reinstated immediately pursuant to AFT’s constitution at a dues rate of $6.00 per month remitted to the AFT. We look forward to your prompt response as time is of essence.


Willie Brewer

WTU Executive Board Member

Agnes Dyson

WTU Executive Board Member

Sheila H. Gill
WTU Executive Board Member

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in reside


Classic said...

I thank you Candi for posting the letter. I think that the entire affected 266 shares in these thoughts. It is clearly stated in the constitution that we should have the rights as long as we are fighting our termination. I have lost benefits (vision, dental) and I am not in a position to vote for either President or on the contract. I think that is a gross abuse of power by George Parker and Randi has ignored the concerns of the RIF teachers from the very beginning. We have sent her a number of letters and request for meetings. She has told us that she has faith in George and that he will handle things. Don’t even get me started on George and Jody they just sit around with no opinion and allow President Parker to violate the constitution kind of like with the elections...hmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Bravo- Candi- Thanks for enlightening us on the plight of the laid off teachers. There is no excuse for their termination let alone WTU turning their back on them. Maybe they should hire A Scott Bolden to represent them. I'm just tired of the (fill in the blank) show. Its no longer entertaining but truly embarrasing.

Anonymous said...

Advice to every teacher in DC: leave and go somewhere else!!! While you still can!!! If you are young enough, you may even want to think about looking at other careers because what's going on in DC is slowly turning into a nation-wide epidemic.

Lindsey said...

This is ludicrous!

First of all the RIF teachers are so dispensible that Parker hires a lawyer for them who is not even able to practice law in DC

Then, he kicks them out of the WTU

Then he files to withdraw their appeal to Judge Bartnoff

Then he reinstates their appeal to Judge Bartnoff

Then he arranges for the RIF Teachers to get some retroactive pay raise if this contract is signed. (maybe in exchange for withdrawing the appeal?)

Then he abandons those people who actually worked during the contract period who happened to simply retire of their own free will (they don't get the retroactive pay as they normally would have.)

Does this make any damn sense?

Parker is a sick man!

Sick of AFT said...

Don't expect Randi Weingarten to do the right thing. This open letter is very telling. It's time for DC teachers to get rid of Parker. Next on your agenda should be cutting the ties to AFT. You all pay them too much money in dues for this crap!

Anonymous said...

The 438am comment is compelling. But what is gained with Mr. Saunders other than he's not Mr. Parker? While Mr. Parker has a skill issue, to be polite, his opponent seems like a guaranteed polarizer. That may be comforting to some, but it is possibly not what is needed when teachers are on the defensive and the City Council and others with interests in public ed do not sound like big fans of teachers as a group at this point in time. Could it be that a new organization, unaffiliated with AFT, needs to established? Am unsure, but that has been done somewhere, perhaps not in teachers unions. Or perhaps one could switch to another "parent" under the AFL-CIO umbrella. Teamsters? Or how about the SEIU; most of its members are blue collar, but they sure do a good job for their locals. AFSCME? Just some ideas to chew on.

The Washington Teacher said...

Reply to anonymous @ 6:26

I don't see Nathan as polarizer as you suggest. As someone who didn't know either George or Nathan at the outset, I believe Nathan is a critical thinker, an organizer and planner unlike George Parker. Nathan also is open to others ideas when they differ from his own and is not intimidated by others expertise and knowledge. I have found this refreshing because George Parker's philosophy in our union has been either his way or the highway which has excluded critical input from many of our members including myself. George is easily intimidated by strong leaders and seeks to squash their voice and involvement in our union. Another main difference that I see that Nathan sought out higher education on his own in trade unionism, law and ethics to broaden his knowledge base to be a stronger leader.

Having worked with Nathan in the union for the past 3 years- I know first hand he has been there to support teachers and related school personnel as well as parents in their fight to save many schools from closing amongst other things. We need someone who is willing to stand up and fight as we are at war with this corporate rhee-form model that is all about privatization and not about students.

I don't expect that Nathan or those of us who say the unpleasant things that need to be said- will be liked and more than likely will be viewed as polarizing. The bottom line question is we are a fight for public education; you have to decide do you want a fighter like Nathan or do you want someone who retreats (sp ?) like George and buries his head in the sand when faced with conflict and controversy. My vote is on Nathan as he is the only principle player in this race.

Anonymous said...

Your description of Saunders is uplifting and promising. Thanks. But on the closing issue, we know that by any measure that the District has had and still has way too many schools. And they are bleeding the budget excessively. Local parents who will lose convenience and some teachers may object to more closings, but that is the kind of issue that doesn't help teachers deal with any other stakeholders. Rhee or a successor will definitely need to close more schools. And doing that is not an attack on public education or a move to privatization; it only strengthens DCPS to survive as the primary source of public education. Does this make any sense to you all out there?

overspending said...

The issues Anonymous @ 817 am is not addressing is that Ms. Rhee bleeds the budget daily when she continues to hire. Still there is no freeze on her spndning. Now Rhee is still hiring on Craigs list and IDEAL list for many jobs and now she will hire 13 new superintendents we don't need. In 1 year she hired 2000 staff people. Lets not pretend that the District is concerned about balancing a budget and saving money. If you argue schools need to be closed, then argue that someone in this city must put a leash on Ms. Rhee's spending.

Sheila H. Gill said...

I personally appreciate and thank you Candi for allowing the Elected WTU Executive Board Laid-Off members' voices to be heard.

Actions speak louder than words and we are requesting actions from Randi.

One ponders and thinks about, "What is the real objective of a labor union?"

Our union rights have been violated and Randi has the authority to make a wrong right for JUSTICE to PREVAIL!!

I'm confident that Randi will investigate our concerns and hold everyone accountable as we are holding her accountable, too.

UNION RIGHTS for the Wrongfully Terminated 266 Immediately!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know that much about Saunders, bI know enough about Parker to know it would be hard for someone to be worse.

Classic said...

I am a supporter of Nathan and hope that your opinion on Nathan is based on hearing what he has to say and seeing his vision of the future of the WTU. I agree that there needs to be change and I am NO fan of the AFT or Randi and that they are who you should have an issue with. I know that with Nathan's leadership he will bring the pride back to being a DCPS employee.

Michelle Rhee has been very successful in destroying our image and reputation across the country while the AFT and George sat by and watched. Nathan has been fighting from the beginning for all of us and for that I applaud him and he has my vote (if I could vote) and support.

andrew said...

The national office of the AFT will never allow Nathan Saunders to become President of the WTU. Saunders, you Candi, Shiela and all the other genuine rank-and-file members of the union will have to come to terms with that and decide on a course of action. And be warned the courts are not the answer.

In Florida recently an act of civil disobedience, an illegal strike which was called a sickout in the largest school district, Miami-Dade, was the main factor in defeating the vicious anti-teacher legislation called SB6. The AFT locals in the state conducted a hysterical campaign to stop the teacher action but failed.

Randi Weingarten's interests are served by the status quo. So while teachers are catching hell across the country from L.A. to Chicago to Detroit to Florida to New York City to Central Falls, R.I. to D.C. she will do nothing to stop it.

The national is devoted now to only one thing as our economic crisis deepens. That one thing is their own cushy jobs and the paycheck that comes with it.

I'm afraid the brothers and sisters of the WTU are on your own now. Get in touch with your own power when you all do something together. We did it in Miami-Dade and it felt good.

P.S. Not one person was disciplined in any form or fashion for the strike in Miami-Dade despite the union's threats.

Ludwig said...

If the union's only role is to allow privatization to grow, to not resist the trend toward testing and private foundation funding, then Parker is the right leader. We need a leader in the union who understands the bigger trends that are at work here, the greater dangers to equity and community. I am sadden to hear teachers at work simply say, "A salary jump sounds good to me!" and there ends their understanding of what is taking place. We are being bribed to give up something vital and important here. I am voting no.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

In my state it is unlawful for a union to treat its members in this way. Have you asked an attorney about unfair labor practices as they apply to the District of Columbia?

Good luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

You know, it is possible to (1) vote for Saunders and (2) vote for ratification of the TA.

If AFT "help" keeps Saunders off the ballot somehow, court intervention will likely reverse that.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5:10, I agree with you. I plan on voting for the TA and also for Nathan. He will be a strong adversary to Rhee and our vigorous advocate. That said, IMPACT, not the new contract, is much more a threat to teachers, to our jobs, our mental health and our morale. I'm trying to incorporate its principles into my techniques but not without a lot of added stress.
Let me share with you some of my experiences. My average IMPACT scores and those of my coworkers have been within the effective range (2.5+) and under highly effective, 3.5. Yet I know that many are really getting nailed by IMPACT.
My last ME observation was unannounced and didn't go as well as I had hoped. Though my lesson was good and I believe rigorous, I was hitting the varied learning styles, stating and restating the objectives, there was a slight problem: his name was Jason* (not his real name). He was acting up. So when the ME came to give her feedback to me, I was so nervous and expected the worse. And yes, I got marked down because I could not keep Jason sufficiently in line and on task. I lost points on T6, maximize instructional time, and T3, engage all students in learning. All because of Jason.
But I did well on T8, interact positively and respectfully because I didn't come down too heavily on Jason, as the ME was there. Throughout the city, every class has a Jason, probably several.

Anonymous said...

To anon at 8:06 on May 16--what a great set of insights on Impact you provided to all readers. Thanks! One cannot help but admire your serious engagement with the procedure. You are obviously learning from it. Sure, it is not perfect by a long shot, but it needs to be done to manage development, teacher assignments, and provide a foundation for performance pay. And you have to be right that every class has at least one "Jason." Thank you for your important service to the city as an educator.