Sep 19, 2011

NO WTU Vice President For You AGAIN!

Written by Candi Peterson

It's official, I have been ousted from my elected position within the Washington Teachers' Union, AFL-CIO, Local 6 on September 19, 2011  by WTU President Nathan Saunders. Get this, the revocation of my leave of absence from DCPS, was authored by none other than Nathan Saunders and co-signed by Jason Kamras, Deputy Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. Some might argue that this is graphic evidence that Nathan is now in bed with the Office of the Chancellor, none other than Rhee's nemesis who I like to refer as Kaya and company. Sound familiar?

Monday was one exhausting day for me. The real sordid details will have to be left for another day and another time and place. First, I must ask you to not to cast judgment on me, at least not at this time. That's what Saunders and the WTU Executive Board did to me- when they denied me my inalienable right to due process. I was never afforded a hearing, the board never heard my side of the story, never informed me that I would be the subject of discipline in an executive board meeting, never afforded me the opportunity to face my accusers or prepare a defense before severely disciplining me by stripping me of my WTU constitutional vice presidential duties, my WTU pay and my free speech rights to even discuss myself  or my own case with anyone, etc. The only thing I kept was my title. Imagine that? My lawsuit speaks to these facts. Despite these atrocities, I continued to come to work at the WTU until my leave of absence was revoked.

While you will hear that I am erratic and unprofessional, I just ask you to think back to the very person that you have known me to be and the person who has written this blog for the past three years. A lot of things describe me, but those adjectives do not reflect reality. Just some hyped up public relations smear campaign.

Once I was elected, my goal was to continue to help teachers and school personnel. This very blog was instrumental and effective in standing up for teachers as well as pointing out the flaws of  Rhee's slash and burn administration. Afterall this blog is what our members asked the WTU leadership to continue, once elected. Don't think for every minute, that I didn't try my best. I took the same passion evidenced right here and continued advocating on behalf of our members to the K Street union office. My only regret is that I wasn't able to complete the job that members elected me to do. I worked well with Nathan Saunders and he didn't have complaints about me until I went to the media about my suspension of pay by him unilaterally. When I filed my lawsuit to restore my rights as an elected leader, things simply deteriorated and Saunders retaliated. In one day, I received four letters of reprimand from him. Saunders' fury was like a lover scorned.

I hope you will return to The Washington Teacher blog for more, as details emerge. For now, I hope you will peruse Bill Turque, (AKA Washington Post writer) rendition of the WTU story as told on his DC Schools Insider blog. I'd like you to ponder this question: What type of internal remedies and/or changes to the WTU Constitution do we need to make so being ousted as a labor leader doesn't ever happen again in our union history? By the way, WTU has no internal appeal processes when there is a disagreement between the union president and the general vice president. I'm listening ? 



© Candi Peterson 2013




Teachers’ union vice president ousted in dispute with president Saunders

Seems like it’s been incorporated into the Washington Teachers’ Union by-laws: that the union president and the general vice president shall be at all-out war.
First it was George Parker and VP Nathan Saunders, who disagreed on union strategy for dealing with Michelle Rhee. Saunders contended that Parker wasn’t pushing back hard enough against Rhee initiatives such as IMPACT. The tensions led to Saunders suing Parker (unsuccessfully), and Parker moving to bounce Saunders (temporarily) back to teaching, alleging that he hadn’t been doing his job.
Now Saunders, who unseated Parker last year, is locked in a similarly nasty fight with his vice president, Candi Peterson. Peterson sued the union for breach of contract last month after she was effectively suspended from her vice presidential post. Today, she had her leave of absence from her school social worker post revoked by DCPS at Saunders’ request.

The particulars of the dispute are not completely clear, but Peterson said it started when Saunders spoke abusively to her at a July staff meeting, something that Saunders denies. Saunders, for his part, says that Peterson’s behavior had been erratic and unprofessional.
Saunders and Peterson were running mates (as were Parker and Saunders) in last fall’s election, positioning themselves as staunch critics of Rhee and former Mayor Adrian Fenty. But after the election, Saunders wanted Peterson to tone down some of the posts in her blog, The Washington Teacher. Saunders said he told her they needed to focus on meeting the needs of their members and preparing for significant challenges over the next year, including the likely closing of some schools.
“We have to lead these people,” Saunders said he told her.
Peterson said yesterday that Saunders has started to resemble the man he replaced. “He’s fired seven people (in the union office). I make number eight,” she said. “He’s become George Parker. In fact, far worse.”
He’s basically become a dictator. He’s doing the same thing George did to him.”
Saunders said he tried to work with her, asking her to take courses at the National Labor College to improve her skills, but that the relationship had deteriorated. Peterson said Saunders tried to get her to sign what she called “a political suicide note” forbidding her from talking to the press or blogging.
Her last post on The Washington Teacher, dated August 24, includes a disclaimer she is “not writing in my official capacity as WTU General Vice President, but rather as an announced candidate in the 2013 WTU election.”
By   |  04:22 PM ET, 09/19/2011