Aug 26, 2010

George Parker, Hold Over WTU President Sues AFT

George Parker, 'Hold Over' president of the Washington Teachers' Union (whose constitutional term ended June 30, 2010) filed a lawsuit on August 16, 2010 against the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The purpose of Parker's lawsuit is to seek an injunction to prohibit the AFT from suspending the autonomy of the WTU. In one of Parker's many robo calls to members, he reported that his rationale for filing this lawsuit (which was funded by WTU members monies) was to protect teachers and school personnel. A DC teacher wrote: "Parker is a nut case. Why didn't he use the 'same zeal' to fight Michelle Rhee on IMPACT and that poor excuse for a contract. He will do anything to stay in the union office illegally."

You may recall that AFT President, Randi Weingarten, declared a limited administratorship takeover of the WTU because Parker refused to comply with the terms of the AFT Executive Council decision and order, dated August 4. This order indicated that AFT would oversee union elections and set a new deadline date of September 3rd for union members to submit their petitions to run for elected offices. The order also required Parker to reinstate Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP's salary forthwith and approve Saunders leave of absence from DCPS through the completion of the union election. When Parker refused to comply, Weingarten instituted a 'limited administratorship' with future plans to hold a hearing before her executive council on the matter at a later date. Parker and members of his illegally constituted WTU Executive Board including 4 newly appointed members by Parker (Carynne Connover, Jacqueline Hines, Monica Jones-Martinez and Bill Rope) requested that Weingarten and the AFT Executive Council reconsider its August 4 decision and order. In an August 16 letter to WTU board members, President Randi Weingarten responded: "Dear Mr. Parker: Upon due consideration, the August 4 determination which you challenge is adhered to. Unless by noon on Tuesday, August 17, 2010, we receive an unequivocal sworn undertaking from you and the Executive Board of the WTU, local 6 to comply in all respects with and to fully cooperate in all good faith with the processes previously articulated thereunder, an Administratorship shall upon unanimous decision of the President, Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Vice President of the AFT, be established and an Administrator appointed effective forthwith and without further notice to restore the rights of members in election procedures or representation, to secure and safeguard vital records and assets of the WTU from immediate threat, and to take such actions as are necessary to protect the interests of the membership in accordance with Article VI of the Constitution and bylaws of the AFT, AFL-CIO particularly sections 14 and 15 and each of the subsections thereof, and applicable provisions of law."

Parker seems intent on having his way by delaying union elections by any means necessary. An anonymous commenter described Parker's actions this way: "George Parker's consistent denial of the facts in relinquishing his authority as WTU president is quite troubling to me. His actions have become increasingly irrational. I don't know him personally but from a distance he appears to be losing touch with reality and displaying signs of desperation. Let's hope he continues to be non-violent." Usereason stated that "Parker has given lots of people plenty to be angry and depressed about. He (Parker) is reaping what he has sown.... I hope something can get him to come around and leave without fighting to the death ...."

Given this latest twist of events, what is your take on the lawsuit against AFT and Parker's spending the Washington Teachers Union assets to remain in office ? Stay tuned as this saga unfolds.

*Monica Jones- Martinez wrote me an email today on 8/26/10 revealing that she is no longer a WTU Executive board member. Ms. Martinez reports that after being appointed to the illegally constituted WTU E-board in June 2010 that she later resigned in late June 2010. It should be noted however, that she was a participant in the June 2010 WTU Executive Board meetings.

Aug 17, 2010

WTU Prez George Parker Loses Control Of Union Operations

AFT, Parent Organization Enacts Limited Administratorship of WTU
On August 5, I reported on this blog that the American Federation of Teachers executive council issued an order requiring at long last that Washington Teachers Union members would have a union election of officers. The order stated that AFT would retain jurisdiction to ensure compliance . In addition to proceeding with local union elections, the order also required that the Washington Teachers' Union restore Nathan Saunders, WTU General VP's salary forthwith and grant approval of his leave of absence from DCPS through the election. Well it shouldn't come as any surprise that George Parker ( whose term as teachers' union president ended June 30, 2010) refused to comply with the terms of AFT's order. As reported by the DC Schools Insider blog on August 16, AFT Prez Randi Weingarten issued an ultimatum to Parker to 'comply or else'. Parker was given until noon on August 17 to comply with the AFT August 4 order. Parker's refusal to comply with Weingarten's directive by the deadline date has lead to President Weingarten placing the WTU at 11:30 am on August 17 under limited administratorship. In an August 17 letter to George Parker, Weingarten states: "This action (administratorship) is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that the WTU elections are carried out in a manner consistent with the WTU Constitution and the AFT executive council Decision and Order dated August 4, 2010." Weingarten revealed in her correspondence to Parker that she has sent an electronic copy of a letter to union members notifying them of this action. In addition, she made Parker aware that he will be contacted shortly for a date and time for the administratorship hearing to be scheduled. Al Squire, AFT Director of the Southern region will serve as the administrator.

Weingarten stated in an August 17 letter to union members : "I have received written notice that the leadership and executive board of the WTU have refused to comply with the order issued by the AFT executive council. This noncompliance constitutes a denial of the democratic right of WTU members to participate in a timely, fair and transparent election process. None of us has the right to overrule or subjugate the democratic rights of any members of your union or any other union. For this reason the AFT executive council has voted to place the WTU in a administratorship for the purpose of conducting the internal election."

Read Bill Turque's article on the actions that led to this takeover (below).

Weingarten to WTU: Comply or else by Bill Turque
"AFT president Randi Weingarten says Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker has until noon Tuesday to comply with an Aug. 4 order to hold a mid-September election for new officers and delegates, or the contest will be taken out of his hands and conducted by the national parent organization.
In a letter to Parker on Monday, Weingarten said that unless AFT gets "an unequivocal sworn undertaking" from WTU complying with the order, an administrator "will be appointed effective forthwith and without further notice to restore the rights of members ... to secure and safeguard the vital records and assets of the WTU from immediate threat, and to take such actions as are necessary to protect the interests of the membership."

Elections were scheduled for May but held up because of a dispute over the legitimacy of an internal committee that handles some aspects of the contest. Parker and the union's executive committee reset the election for late November, contending that they wouldn't have accurate membership lists until later in the new school year. Also swirling in the mix is the long time feud between Parker and general vice president Nathan Saunders, once allies, but now opponents in the presidential race. The executive board voted to eliminate Saunders's $131,000 annual salary and withheld renewal of his leave of absence from classroom duties because of what it characterized as his refusal to account for the time he has spent on union business.

But after a July 21st hearing at AFT headquarters, Weingarten ordered a mid-September election with ballots to be counted Oct. 4, and said anyone who was an active member June 30 was eligible to vote. She also ordered Saunders placed back on the union payroll, calling the timing of the decision to zero out his salary "unfortunate."

In an Aug. 13 letter asking Weingarten to reconsider, Parker said Saunders is strictly a WTU matter. He also said the election orders are illegal and step on the prerogatives of the WTU executive committee. He contended that the June 30 eligibility cut-off would effectively disenfranchise hundreds of new teachers now in the process of signing up for union membership. (What he didn't say is that it might also allow teachers fired or excessed after that date -- union members who may might not look so favorably on reelecting Parker -- access to a ballot).

"We are greatly concerned about the damage caused by AFT's actions here," wrote Parker, who declined to comment on Weingarten's ultimatum early Monday evening because he had not spoken with his lawyers. "

Aug 11, 2010

What Will Become Of DC's Excessed Teachers?

Inquiring minds want to know WTU's official position ?

Excess: "is an elimination of a teacher's position due to a decline in student enrollment, reduction in the local school budget, a closing or consolidation, a restructuring or a change in the local school program when such an elimination is not a reduction in force or abolishment."

I have received a number of emails of concern this summer from excessed teachers who have not yet been re-hired by the Rhee administration. Recently, a colleague copied me in on an email asking Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker (whose term ended June 30) what is the official status of excessed teachers as well as DCPS hiring practice on this matter (email featured below).

In an August 5 Wash. Post article written by Bill Turque, Rhee stated that "although "two or three" of the excessed teachers had been picked up by other schools, there had been "no movement" in the last six weeks to hire the others." There seems to be a dispute between George Parker and Chancellor Rhee as to which contract we are currently operating under. In the same August 5 article, Rhee is clear that we are operating under the 2007-12 contract which was ratified on June 2. According to the new WTU contract negotiated by George Parker and AFT President Randi Weingarten, see pages 30-31: "permanent excessed teachers who do not find a placement have the option of a buyout, if funds are available, an early retirement with a minimum of 20 years creditable service, if funds are available or another year to secure a new placement while they serve in one of the following capacities as a one on one tutor, provide class coverage, small group instruction or central office support. The buyout, early retirement and extra year extension shall only be available to permanent status teachers whose most recent evaluation is effective or higher. (pages 30- 33 of the WTU contract) *An excessed permanent status teacher who is unable to secure a new placement within the 60 calendar days following the effective date of the excess shall have 5 calendar days immediately following expiration of the 60 calendar day period to select one of the following options (listed above). Any teacher who does not make a selection shall be subject to separation from DCPS on the 66th calendar day following the effective date of excess." Of course probationary teachers, who are excessed regardless of their job performance would be terminated within 60 days from the date of excessing. Here's a copy of the teacher's email below and feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on this subject. If I receive any official written correspondence from the Washington Teachers' Union on this issue, I will post it in a timely manner.

Dear Mr. Parker:

"What is the official status of DCPS teachers deemed "minimally effective" as far as the administration hiring this fall? I could not get definitive answers from field representatives. So now, I must put this question to you as well. What also is the official status of the class action grievance that you mentioned last weekend? I am asking because I haven't received any call backs from any of the DC Public Schools that I contacted, including the schools that I interviewed with during the career fair in June."


Anonymous Excessed Teacher ( in DC)

Aug 5, 2010

Finally, There's Going To Be A WTU Election !

Your Vote Is Your Voice !
Vote Saunders/Peterson slate-WTU 2010
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.

Your Vote Is Your Voice !

Vote Saunders/Peterson slate for WTU '2010