Sep 20, 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 Despite these atrocities, I continued to come to work at the WTU until my leave of absence was revoked.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 


Marvin said...

Give 'em heck, Candi!

Anonymous said...

Nathan got elected and turned into a jellyback!!! The rank and file need leadership. Where is the demand for justice and determination that got him elected? Since he is president, I guess everything is just roses FOR HIM. The same issues and concerns about IMPACT and test scores still plague us.

I know of a "highly effective" teacher that had only 3 students in reading and math on grade level. Someone please explain that to me. This teacher is a 3rd grade teacher, white and considered "highly effective" by impact standards...THAT IS BS!!! The principal is color struck as well and that "highly effective" teacher is the best ship sailing to her. Please help me understand how this is so?? 3 students out of 15 on grade level and she had them for at least 2 years???????
So while the WTU is fighting this is what teachers are battling. SUCK that SH!T up Nathan and do your JOBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB!!!!

a concerned teacher said...

Candi--this is the most absurd treatment of an elected official that I have ever heard of. So, we, the teachers wanted you as VP yet Saunders can single handedly fire you? And what's this with Saunders asking you to take a class at a local college to improve your "skills?" It sounds like pure sexism/discrimination to me, a man intimidated by a strong woman. But even if this is not the core of the problem, it's still wrong in 100000 different ways. Stay tuned for my angry letter to Saunders, I'll be sure to cc you.

Candi Peterson said...

Thanks for your comments Anonymous @ 11:19. Your perspective is in alignment with what others are saying. Most recently an article in the DC City Paper made a similar assessment of WTU President Saunders.

I would rather be fighting for the rights of teachers but right now the office of the WTU General Vice President has been DISABLED unilaterally by Saunders and of course co-signed by Jason Kamras, DCPS Deputy Chancellor while Kaya Henderson and Mayor Vincent Gray look the other way.

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous @ 11:59

I wanted to respond, Saunders can't fire me as I am elected. I believe the union President thinks he has found a clever way to get rid of me. I believe that the president's demeaning treatment of me definitely has elements of sexism.

I thank you for your support. Please feel free to send any emails to me @ as my WTU email account was DISABLED by WTU President last Friday.

Anonymous said...

I supported Nathan only because of you. I always thought he was hot tempered.I am so sorry this is happening to you. Teachers are surprised that this is going on. I want you back fighting for us.

bigfella said...

Nathan doesn't care. All he cares about is fitting in and that's sad because he won the election because of your blog and following. Teachers felt that you were a fighter and will continue to fight for what is right. Look at the 266, Nathan has not gone to bat yet he talked about it during the campaign and hasn't done anything at all. When he has a press conference for the 75 teachers who were fired, he will be front and center.

Anonymous said...

I think I am going to withdraw my financial support from the union. Those of us who think he is an ego maniac need to respond by withdrawing financial support from the union. We do not have to be full dues paying members to an organization that has not consulted us on major decisions. Saunders seems to have forgotten that we all followed your blog NOT him. We need to organize and take action and not allow him to make unilateral decisions that effect all of us.

Marvin said...

To Anon. at 11:19 PM.

Can you possibly make your points without racial labeling and profanity, please? Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

Sharon B. said...

Teachers, have any of you been to the WTU office? What you will find, is three pictures of past presidents. Leading the pack is his mother-in-law Jimmie Jackson. Another is Harold Fisher and one other. The PORTRAITS are huge, which probably cost some dollars. Is this what the members dues are being used for? Who is the watchman on the wall to hold Nathan accountable? He is definitely not the person that I knew. WTU is being further RUN INTO THE GROUND!!!! I think that there were signs of this behavior prior to the election and no one was paying attention. Warning ALWAYS comes before destruction. HE is not doing anything for the teachers of DC. Therefore get ready teachers for more chaos. Candi , I feel for you!!!

Anonymous said...


I hope that you are well and not so frustrated with Nathan's autocratic behavior that it has any impact on your health. I wish you success in your lawsuit against WTU. I agree that Nathan's behavior is very similar to that of George Parker. I am disappointed in him.

You are very tough and smart and can handle this successfully.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, Candi! I thought only administrators tried to muzzle teacher voices. Sad when your own union does, too. Keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

Candi where are you now? Are you back in the classroom? I'm so sorry about all of this. After all we have to done to pull together to get rid of George Parker and Rhee. This is just disheartening to hear about all of this. This just sad for you and the union.

Anonymous said...

You are Saunders latest casualty. There are others. Do your homework.

DCNeverSleeps said...

I feel betrayed. I voted for your team because of you and what you wrote on this blog. I thought you and NS would take it all the way to DCPS and fight for our rights. Now it seems that the fighting is being done at the WTU. I wish you all the best. You have my support. Just keep fighting for the teachers. Keep blogging. Keep uncovering the scandals and keep DCPS on their toes. Thanks once again.

Focus Marvin, Focus said...

THE TRUTH HURTS, HUH? I am calling it like it is. I noted that the 3rd grade "highly effective" teacher was/is white. While I neglected to say the other 3rd grade teacher was black will all of the behavior problems was "FIRED". What is wrong with this picture????

As far as the word SH!T, if that is all that bothers you then get your head out of the sand. Focus, focus on the other 75 words before that...Thanks in advance for your focus.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this an unfair labor practice? Seems like there is a double standard for Saunders.

Zulma, Bronx Math Teacher said...

I'm a NYC teacher. Although I couldn't vote for the union leadership in D.C., during your election I did give a big shout out because YOU were on the slate. You embody what union leadership is supposed represent. I admire you for your strength and most of all for your courage. Don't let Nathan do a George Parker move on you. Get the members to recall him! If it takes holding back union dues to get Nathan out, just do it. I truly feel that Nathan wasn't going to win the election on his own merit. He needed you to make him look good. The true union leader is you. I can't stand corruption and underhandedness.

Good Luck! Give him a good fight.

Candi Peterson said...

Thanks for your comments, Zulma.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

This disunity is the absolute worst thing for DCPS teachers. If the teachers are not being adequately represented, can you ask the national union to help? What are your options? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Linda the AFT has never helped and always stays out of local issues.I don't understand but ask Randi Weingarten why.

Marvin said...

To the friend commenting on Sept. 26 at 2:10am:

I say again: Can you possibly make your points without racial labeling and profanity, please? Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

You seem to need serious help, madame, and I hope you get it.

Sevna Infotech said...

very well witten and quoted will check back for comment updates
I supported Nathan by the way:)