Dec 14, 2015

Broken Promises- It's December - Still No Contract for You!

No More Broken Promises!
By Candi Peterson, General Vice President

Statements or expressions of opinions herein 'do not' represent the views or official positions of DCPS, AFT, Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) or its members. Views are my own. 

For the record, I AM NOT a member of the WTU Contract Negotiations team. I never have been. I am a concerned union member and I am tired of 'Broken Promises' of WTU Presidents. 

I've witnessed the campaign of mis-information, neglect and avoidance of what I consider the number one job of a WTU President - represent the interests of its members in getting a negotiated contract.

It’s December and after 3 plus years of desperately awaiting a teacher contract, DCPS teachers still don’t have a contract thanks to WTU President/Chief Negotiator Davis and former union president Saunders. Teachers are still in limbo and it seems unlikely that there will be a tentative agreement by the end of the calendar year as reported by President Davis in previous union meetings and newsletters.  The last WTU contract expired in September 2012.

Prior to the thanksgiving break, teachers were invited to the Kellogg conference center on the campus of Galludet University on November 19 by WTU for a Contract Action and Member Feedback session.

The WTU newsletter billed this event as the “first-ever WTU member engagement event on contract negotiations” and “an opportunity to represent  each school chapter utilizing state-of-the-art audience response technology and hand-held devices to interact, analyze and partake in preliminary contract voting and surveying of the full proposals and Articles completed by the WTU contract negotiations team. 

Some of the teachers I conversed with during the evening, initially seemed hopeful that this event was finally an indication that Chief Negotiator Davis and the contract negotiations team were a lot closer to a completion of a tentative agreement. By evening’s end, the presentation left teachers clamoring for transparency.

Michelle Smith, a WTU building representative said as she exited, “I don’t know anymore now then when I came.” Another teacher who requested anonymity said, “when will we see what has already been presented to DCPS ? Tonight was more fake transparency.”

Jim Leonard, a veteran teacher and long standing WTU Building Representative at Wilson Senior High school wrote a letter expressing high school teachers concerns who sat at his table at the Kellogg contract negotiations event.  Interesting how Jim’s letter similarly concluded that the meeting left a lot of unanswered questions for teachers.  "I really think that the time to take the pulse of the rank and file should be behind us. If we have established positions that the team has thoroughly vetted then we should go forward with the process, do the best we can and then bring the results back for a vote. If there is dissatisfaction, then let those members vote the contract down, says Leonard."

While Leonard said he initially planned to email the letter to WTU President Liz Davis, he opted to openly read his letter at the last union meeting of the year in December held at McKinley. 

Leonard tactfully confronts teachers concerns in his letter below. Please read and share this blog with teachers you know.

"I just wanted to give you the impressions from my table of high school teachers. Although I think it is a positive that the WTU is seeking input regarding areas that are being worked on, most of us left the meeting not really knowing much more than what we knew when we arrived. Is it that you can’t give us specific language that you have proposed, or has no specific language been presented to the district for consideration? That seems to be the biggest concern. 

Are we still trying to get the pulse of the membership to see what language should be presented or are we sharing ideas that have already been prepared and presented?  I would find it difficult to imagine that we could ever be in a position to complete the process if we do not yet have established goals with language to match already completed.

There were some areas that were informative, such as the WTU’s position regarding the extended day or year. If I heard you correctly the WTU would like to have its members be able opt out of either the extended day or year if their school votes to accept either of these.  That was definitive information. Thank you.

We also learned that there will be an attempt to tighten up the grievance process. I think the results of the question about being paid by administrative premium v. per diem, for after-hours work, was interesting. My only concern is that if we go to a per diem model the district will only give those positions to younger teachers, as it will cost them far less.

I really appreciate your time and effort and your concern about transparency; however I really think that the time to take the pulse of the rank and file should be behind us. If we have established positions that the team has thoroughly vetted then we should go forward with the process, do the best we can and then bring the results back for a vote. If there is dissatisfaction, then let those members vote the contract down."


© Candi Peterson, 2015


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update.

Tyrone C. Asia, Sr. said...

The 1 word that comes to mind after reading this blog by Ms. Peterson along with the included letter by Mr. Leonard to describe this lack of fulfilling "promises" is "failure!"

The title "Do Nothing", without a doubt applies to and is earned by the current WTU President & the WTU Contract Negotiations team!

3 years and no contract! This is appalling, unprofessional, dereliction of duties and "Broken Promises!"

Is it an incompetent, don't give a damn, no goal setting capabilities, unconcerned, it doesn't affect my income/position, lack of values, etc. "Contract Negotiations team" that is hindering, obscuring, slowing the process, unqualified in their current position/lack of knowledge and no initiative to get a contract approved after "3 years" or do these labels fall upon the "WTU President?"

When a "Do Nothing" Congress hinders, avoids voting on bills and obscures progress, who does the blame ultimately fall upon? The President!

I can only assume the WTU Contract Negotiation members are appointed by and or selected by the WTU President. Please feel free to correct me should my assumption fall short of the fact. It is of my "outsider opinion" that the WTU President should be recalled ASAP and the newly elected WTU President dismantle, replace and or remove the ineffective WTU Contract Negotiations team with new members who will be provided with a set of goals they can both understand and take action to complete a contract in a timely manner.

In closing, I hope the WTU Representative Assembly meeting that took place on November 10th at McKinley SHS was successful in not only bringing to the table the tough questions but more importantly having those questions answered with honesty and transparency.

DC Teachers are rightfully deserving of a contract

Mobile App Developers said...

I don’t know how should I give you thanks! I am totally stunned by your article. You saved my time. Thanks a million for sharing this article.

Jeremy Jordan said...

I appreciate your support Ms. Peterson.
I'm not really sure what is going on.
I am sure, however, that if this continues DC will lose many of their best teachers.

Anonymous said...

Liz is No Action Talk Only. She came to my school and talked about herself the whole time. I don't think she has the skills to negotiate a contract. Even though teachers are silent we aren't fooled.