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Although long overdue, members of the Washington Teachers' Union will finally have an election of officers. According to the WTU Constitution, union elections were supposed to be conducted in May with officers being installed in office on July 1, 2010. This has been a long protracted battle which began with AFT becoming involved in taking over the elections of the 15 member WTU Elections Committee in June 2010 because members had not been properly elected . Once elected, the elections committee members requested George Parker, WTU President (whose term ended June 30, 2010) to provide the necessary paperwork so that they could commence elections, Parker refused. Despite repeated appeals by elections chairperson, Claudette Carson to Parker requesting that he cooperate with elections committee members to move forward with a timely election, Parker dug his heels in the sand. What followed next was Parker convening a June 9 and June 15 Executive Board meeting and appointing four new board members illegally (Carynne Conover, Jacqueline Hines, Monica Jones-Martinez and Bill Rope). I was banned from these WTU meetings by George Parker as a WTU Board of Trustee member even though I have been an active participant in executive board meetings for three years. Parker with his newly appointed board in tow took the following measures of setting a new election schedule for the fall of 2010 stating that it was the executive's board's role to determine the elections schedule. Initially, Parker's crony, John Tatum who is appointed as a paid parliamentarian by the union president told the Washington Examiner newspaper that elections would be held in November with officers not being installed until January 2011. Later Parker and Tatum changed the date to a September election- perhaps after all the pressure.
What followed after Parker's election meddling were his retaliatory actions to reduce Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP's salary to a big fat zero while Parker continued to earn a hefty sum of our union dues in the amount of $150,000 and perks. Next, Parker also refused to sign Saunders DCPS leave of absence. Parker's actions left Saunders working for free and would have forced him back into the classroom at the beginning of school even though he was elected to office by the membership. Subsequently, Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP filed a law suit as did Claudette Carson, WTU Elections Chairperson to right these wrongs. Here's to Nathan and Claudette!
Suddenly but not surprising, the AFT became interested in 'talking resolutions' after the lawyers became involved. Heretofore, Randi Weingarten had basically said that this was a local matter and that she only wanted to "get in and get out" after the WTU Elections committee was elected. Certainly the lawsuits but also at the urging of The Washington Teacher blogger (yours truly) and other union members wrote letters to AFT President Randi Weingarten demanding a union election as well as the restoration of Saunders salary and approval of his leave of absence from DCPS. Even AFT members wrote to President Weingarten declaring how absurd it was for Local 6 not to conduct a timely union election and to reduce an officers salary.
Well union members, the power of the pen and a lawsuit here and there is mightier than the sword. Randi Weingarten of AFT heard your voices and decided to hold an investigation this summer into these local concerns at the AFT headquarters. I was in attendance at the AFT hearing and it appeared to me to be a 'kangaroo court' in which members of Randi's AFT Executive Council heard only some of the evidence. Might I add that all of my testimony as a witness was stricken from the record which is totally unacceptable. No real court in this land would allow such nonsense simply because they didn't like the content of one's testimony. I must say however, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of AFT's decision. This shows it is always best to reserve judgment until the end.Here are the results of the WTU Investigation and Order, dated August 4, 2010- as written by the AFT Executive Council:
1. AFT will take charge of the 2010 internal election for the WTU. This will include the officers, Executive board members, Trustees, Delegates to Metro Labor Council and Delegates to the DC and Maryland AFL-CIO.
2. a. the elections process will begin with a notice of nominations to the WTU membership informing the members of open positions for office, the term of office, the method to submit a completed nominations form, a copy of nominations form and the time and location for submitting such nominations.
b. the deadline for submitting nominations petitions will be that set forth
3. Those nominating petitions that have already been submitted will be accepted and they will be reviewed for their sufficiency and for any new petitions.
4. The eligibility cut-off date for WTU members to participate in the election will be the last payroll period in June 2010.
5. Fifteen days after the close of nominations, ballots will be sent by U.S. Mail to the WTU membership. The voting period will be fifteen (15) calendar days. The American Arbitration Association will be retained to conduct the balloting and certify the elections results consistent with the WTU Constitution and Bylaws.
6. The WTU will restore to Saunders his lost pay forthwith. The WTU shall also notify DCPS that Saunders' release time from the classroom should be extended at least through the conclusion of the election.
The Executive Council will retain jurisdiction over this matter to ensure compliance with its directives.