Sep 3, 2010

AFT Loses Court Bid But Gets One More Chance To Get It Right

Featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence

The beginning of the end could be near for Washington Teachers' Union 'Hold Over' Union President, George Parker (whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2010). Parker's demise could be as near as mid-September when the American Federation of Teachers Executive Council is scheduled to hold a hearing to address Parker's refusal to hold timely union elections, and reinstate Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP's pay forthwith and sign off on Saunders leave of absence from DCPS as an elected officer.

Initially, Parker's rationale for not holding elections as per the WTU Constitutional timeline of May 2010 was due to the WTU Elections Committee not being properly seated. Next, AFT Prez Randi Weingarten intervened in overseeing elections for the election committee in May. Parker then refused to turn over the required documents to the WTU Chairperson of the elections committee, Claudette Carson and its fourteen members despite repeated written requests. Parker's refusal further stalled the elections. Parker offered another set of excuses as to why elections would have to be postponed so that he could ensure the WTU membership list was updated due to transitions of teachers as a result of new-hires, retirements, resignations and teacher terminations by the Rhee administration. Parker and members of the WTU Executive Board- settled on a November election schedule much to the chagrin of AFT President Randi Weingarten and union members. (It should be noted that the role of the WTU Elections Comm. is to oversee union elections not the executive board).

In the meantime, months passed by and a July 10 hearing was held at the AFT headquarters with Parker testifying on his own behalf. When Parker didn't like the outcome, he filed a lawsuit using members monies. Subsequently, Weingarten instituted a 'limited administratorship' over the WTU in order to proceed with elections after gaining the approval of her top two executives with a follow up hearing scheduled at a later date.

Earlier this week an emergency lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of Teacher's in U.S. District court against the WTU hold over president- George Parker. AFT filed the lawsuit because they argued that the delay of holding elections compromised union democracy. According to Bill Turque who writes the DC Schools Insider blog : (Judge) "Kottar-Kelley said the AFT did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the emergency action was necessary and did not follow federal labor law by holding a proper hearing. But she added that if AFT follows the rules ( a hearing is scheduled September 10) they stand a better chance of succeeding because the law weighs in favor of the parent union organizations in such matters." One thing Judge Kottar-Kelley did provide to the AFT was a road map on what they need to do to proceed with taking over the WTU. This was evidenced in her (Kottar-Kelley's) written opinion in which she stated: "The court does note that once an administratorship is established pursuant to proper procedures, the presumption of validity under federal law insulates it from attack except upon clear and convincing evidence that it was not established or maintained in good faith."

While Parker views this court ruling as a win, what he didn't tell WTU members is that it is only a temporary win until the September 10 AFT Executive Council hearing. Parker only provided union members with partial information to include a two page order and not the thirty-three page written opinion from Judge Kottar-Kelley which is very telling.

While I do not have a crystal ball, I do believe that AFT President Randi Weingarten's September 1 press release gives us some insight into what possibly lies ahead. Weingarten stated: "In its ruling today, the court confirmed the AFT has the authority under its Constitution to conduct the WTU's 2010 elections for officers" and also found the WTU concedes that it failed to conduct its 2010 officers elections in a timely manner. We are pleased by this outcome, particularly with the court's findings that the purpose of the AFT's administratorship-namely to vindicate the democratic rights of WTU members to a timely election of local officers- was appropriate. We respectfully disagree, however, with the court's decision that this situation does not require immediate action. An election that should have been held months ago is now further delayed. Nonetheless, the court laid out a blueprint for moving ahead- and we look forward to all parties vigorously and fairly participating in the administrative hearing already scheduled for September 10."

Are Parker's days numbered? You tell me if you think Randi's AFT Executive Council will recommend a full administratorship takeover of the WTU ? What would you like to see happen to ensure democracy for union members? I'm listening.


Lindsey said...

I am soooo tired of this. It's an awful mess. AFT & WTU seem like two bumbling idiots. I expected so much more from the AFT, not so much from the WTU.

AFT must be embarrassed by this situation, I know they sould be. Here you have a multimillion dollar organization that, according to the Judge,,,,,"can't get it right the first time."

I now have the grand privledge of paying union dues to two organizations who don't care about what I want.

It makes you wonder, why AFT is soft peddling this disasterous situation. Surely, the union democracy they talk about must include my right to a fair and timely election. Really, is it that complicated? I don't think so!

AFT, you must step up and do the right thing for our members. Take over this mess as you are authorized to do, throw everyone out of office until and new election is had.

Do it now, before I am too old to remember where I put my ballot.

Classic said...

George is a crook he has held the Union hostage and I hope the Randi uses her full power to throw him out of office and give the members a vote. George knows that in a fair election he can not win.

There are too many teachers with out jobs and working uder the constant threat of losing their job.
Randi PLEASE settle this once and for all. The judge ruled that YOU have the power USE IT!!!

You have spilled the tea, Candi said...

This is an excellent article of what is really going on in the WTU. As always, girlfriend, you are to be commended for giving it to us straight, Candi. I was disappointed in George when I heard him call you out in the robo call in such a nasty and negative way. You are the only truth we have had for years and so when he said that stuff I said something else is going on. If he wasn't so hateful I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. He did not say you made a mistake he said you are a liar. When he said that I said to my telephone, "your a liar, George Parker." I had a divorce court flash back to my first husband. Lord have mercy on me. I despise a lying man. What an absolute idiot. Thank him for helping to make you a success. I knew something else was going on ther than what he was saying. AFT does need to get on the stick and handle this situation. George is not an effective leader for us and has never been to be honest. Too many have lost their jobs and I am always confused when he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. Lord help us. The longer he stays the worse we will be. You and Nathan are in our prayers and all the other teachers who find themselves in hardship. What the heck makes him worthy of his salary and Nathan is not. Nine out of ten teachers know if something goes wrong at your school call Nathan not George. This is not by coincidence and we must look at our (teacher) behaviors which have encouraged these events. George Parker does not have a snowball chance in hell of winning anything as long as competition exists. Stay strong and stay the course because your enemy has exposed himself for what what he is worth. AFT should take over the union and nt one teacher is going to complain at all. Randi got burned with George just like the elections committee and the rest of us. Welcome to the party Randi the difference is Randi can do something about it whereas we have been stuck.

Resolved said...

Kick George Parker out and change the locks.

DC teacher said...

When George Parker sends out robo calls and calls your name out and your blog, I run to The Washington Teacher blog to read what you have written. Don't let Parker get you down. What he did was wrong and I hope that the AFT socks it to him at the hearing. Thanks for giving DC teachers the 411 on whats really happening.

Anonymous said...

I'm a NYC teacher. I've been keeping track of all the attacks against teachers and unions that are occurring across the nation. As a union member for over 20 years, what I have seen lately the past 10 years is corruption within the teachers' union. It's bad enough to see so much political corruption, but it's expected especially since most politicians and educrats have no soul and believe in their own self-preservation of their jobs and power. More alarming is the fact to see it within the teachers' union. To me it is perverse! I am truly surprise that Randi, a lawyer and former prez of the UFT, that the judge told her that she got it wrong with respect to constitution of the WTU's bylaws and that the AFT "did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the emergency action was necessary and did not follow federal labor law by holding a proper hearing."

Randi's law degree is in labor law and labor relation. Before she taught (briefly) in a NYC HS in order to be eligible to run for union president, she was Sandy Feldman (former UFT prez) and the union's lawyer for many years.

So how can she get make this mistake by filing a lawsuit that she knew might not be in the WTU's favor, up to a certain point.

I have to guess what's Randi's motive. Remember she did help to create and leave a mess here in NYC with so many teachers in the ATR black hole!

I am cheering for the election to go well. I would like to see Candi and Nathan take the helm and become the education/union leaders that this nation needs. So far Karen Lewis (chicago union prez) is strong and I see great changes for all my colleagues.

Best to all!

Anonymous said...

I want to see the AFT take over the WTU and hold elections as soon as possible.

Peter said...

I want to sent an email to randi weingarten at the AFT to tell her that she needs to do her job and take over the wtu and let's get this election thing going. Let's settle the wtu mess.

Heck, did you notice that since WTU and AFT endorsed Gray for Mayor, that the campaign has not even used the endorsement. They probably don't even want it now since we are in such a big mess.

Candi, what is randi's email address at the AFT? Tell me anyone else you think I should write at the AFT.

Teachers, maybe we all need to send an email to randi before the hearing next week. Let's do something for ourselves and stop sitting around waiting for the AFT to save us!

The Reflective Educator said...

Talk about an outrage. Everything about the WTU should be scrapped and built from the ground up.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see George Parker ousted. He wanted this election to take place in October and looks like he’s going to get it. I believe he wants to select and ensure the membership voting him in back into office. Parker does not deserve to be the President of the the WTU. He sold this union out with this horrible contract which is hailed as groundbreaking. Its groundbreaking alright, it was designed to break the back of the union and will. Teachers are blamed for all the ills of the school system. Parker, Rhee and Fenty have created a turnstyle to eliminate anyone that does not sing their tune. The devil is in charge in DCPS!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point, Peter--if you look at the campaigns going on in Montgomery County, for instance, those candidates who have been endorsed by the teachers' union are promoting it for all they're worth. I'm not seeing the same thing here in DC. Honestly, I can't blame them. The longer this goes on, the more we all look like idiots and I'm frankly pretty tired of the look of pity I get when I tell people I teach in DCPS.

Anonymous said...

I did not get the robo call but I heard about it. Parker, his one-eye bandit and sorry axx executive board should be kicked out asap.

The devil is also running the WTU BUT THE DEVIL WILL SOON BE BEHIND US.

Remember vote early and vote GRAY.

Anonymous said...

Sorry George sends out a robo call regarding lesson plans and there has been no follow up.

Teachers are still being required to write long range plans to give to administrators on a weekly basis. Parker has not contacted the schools administrators to make sure that even this poor contract is enforced.

Teachers are still being abused by administrators and threatened with IMPACT if they do not comply with this violation.

George, you should be IMPACTED OUT OF YOUR JOB, because you have no "added value" when it comes to representing the members of the WTU.

Anonymous said...

This whole situation is unbelievable. What is President former president Parker trying to do? Oh yeah stay president. This is such an ugly tactic. Parker truly knows that if he had the elections back in the day (May 2010) he would have lost. Bloggers what I thought was unfair as I sat in the new hire orientation; is that Parker and team were campaigning. The little handbook they gave out had a big picture of him( 5*7). His campaigners, I mean his staff keep saying this is GP. He is the one who negotiated this that and everything. You know the $34 you are getting for being here? Well GP negotiated that also. To top it off; the passed out mouse pads with GP picture. The funny thing is that out of the new hires the ratio was like 350:50 (blacks). The other 350 were against the union for the most part. They complained about giving an extra $5 to be a full union member. They were asking the benefit of joining. They only wanted it for the health benefits. GP's team was pushing it for whatever reason they needed to; they simply said hey you are covered if a child gets hurt on the playground; you have a 1million policy.

Jawaralal said...

@Anon. at 936am Sep 6. Trying to be fair, let's not tag out GP because of his stature. But aren't there are other authors of the union leadership tragedy? Many, some would say, but their names hardly ever are voiced. As for the contract, we can't say it was not heartily endorsed by the membership--at least those who gave a darn to vote. Finally, does your ratio say that 1/8 of all new hires are AA?

Anonymous said...

I have worked in DCPS for six years, having spent 10 years in a 7 school district in the Mid West. My little school district had a much stronger union than George Parker and the WTU has provided. Thank you Candi for being a source of real information.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Jawaralal doesn't know George Parker. Anonymous Sept 6 @ 9:36 is talking about the size of the pictures given out at the new hire orientation. The picture size was 5*7 not George Parker.I am a WTU member and Im fed up with Parkers many promises and failure to deliver.It will be interesting to see what the AFT will do at the hearing. I agree with the commenter that we need to email them beforehand. Does anyone have Ms. Weingarten's email address? If so please post it here.

Diane said...

To Peter at 3:06 and Anon at 4:13

I went back and found emails from AFT about the election and I found, what I hope, is Weingarten's email address:

I like the idea of emailing her because no telling what she might do at the next hearing. She had all the power in the world to put us out of our misery. But she didn't. We could be in this mess until Parker decides he has had enough! Her email talked about a limited administratorship.

What is a limited administratorship, anyway? It either is an emergency or it is not, Randi. You cannot have it both ways. Had she taken over the WTU when she had the chance, she would not have to worry about things getting done without Parker getting in the way.

Peter said...

To Anon September 6, 2010 9:36 AM:

What is so sad is that employees do not realize that they get those benefits: eyes, dental and even the million dollar coverage from the city--not from the union dues. Take a good look at your paystub. Those fees are listed under "fees paid by employer). You would get that coverage even if you were not a full dues paying member.


If you just listen to what people have to say, you would be buying land in mexico, near the gulf, right now!


Jawaralal said...

Anon at 413am -- Thanks for the clarification. Now I have the measure of the man....

Anonymous said...

lol thanks anonymous 4:13 I was indeed talking about the picture in the booklet. Anonymous 4:40 reread.

Sheila H. Gill said...

Personally, I understand the Judge's ruling because the hearing date was scheduled prior to the emergency hearing on Thursday, September 2, 2010. George don't get to excited because September 10, 2010 is Friday. Let's do a countdown. GP has 3 more days to start the election process or AFT will be in total control. All colleagues please be present on this Friday at AFT located at 555 New Jersey Avenue NW if possible. The AFT Hearing starts at 1 pm and goes until. Please bring your WTU membership card. You may come after work if you like,.

Remember to vote for a new WTU President Nathan Saunders and a New Mayor- Vincent Gray in 2010. All Educators need to demand justice for all. United We Stand and Divided We Fall. Enough is Enough! No Peace, No Justice!! No Peace, No Justice!!! Educators for Gray: Please become a volunteer today in the Gray's campaign. Go to to get involved. We need all educators to commit until September 14, 2010. Save this dateas well: October 2, 2010...Million Man and Woman March on Washington, DC "One Nation Working Together" will gather at the Lincoln Memorial.

Classic said...

@Shelia that hearing is not at the courthouse. This is an AFT hearing it will be at the AFT offices in DC at 1:00pm Friday. You must have your Union or AFT card to get in.

Cynthia said...

Don't get too excited. AFT has been known to pull its own trick or two. Better to just wait and see.