Jun 5, 2016

No Ballots For You: WTU Prez Liz Davis Sabotages Union Elections!

By Candi Peterson, WTU 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.

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the WTU Contract Negotiations team.

Here we go again. Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) elections were supposed to be held in May 2016 and we are almost at the end of the school year with no ballots in sight. Ballots for union officer’s elections HAVE NOT BEEN MAILED TO UNION MEMBERS despite a WTU election timeline, which required them to be mailed on May 31st.  It is important to note that even that even the May 31st date is delayed as Officers-elect are required to be installed at the May meeting.

For those of you have been around six years or more – you may remember that former WTU President George Parker did not adhere to the union elections schedule in 2010. This delayed union elections until November 2010 and AFT, WTU’s parent organization imposed a “limited administratorship” to take over union elections for WTU, after several lawsuits were filed.

The WTU Constitution and By-Laws Section 2 K states:  “Officers of the Union shall serve three years, until their successors are elected and installed. Officers-elect shall be installed at the May meeting.”  President Davis  and the WTU Executive Boards’ term is slated to officially end on June 30, 2016.

The WTU Executive Board members were informed at our last board meeting on June 4th in fact no ballots have been mailed to teachers. Board members wanted to know why.

WTU Elections Chair Cheryl Gillette told Board members that Chief of Staff, Dorothy Egbufor failed to cooperate with the Elections Committee by submitting the union membership list to TrueBallot so elections can be conducted. Further, Gillette reported that TrueBallot was threatened by WTU Chief of Staff Egbufor that their contract would not be paid, despite the fact that Davis previously signed it.

WTU President Elizabeth Davis stated that she authorized the withholding of the union membership list from TrueBallot and threatened non-payment of an already signed contract.  Davis’ feigned excuses to the Board that she was concerned about the integrity of the elections process.

TrueBallot is the same reputable and experienced vendor that WTU contracted to hold the last union election when Elizabeth Davis ran for WTU president in May 2013. It also bears mentioning that WTU Elections Committee Chair Gillette was the elections chair in 2013 when Davis ran and the same elections procedures were followed by Gillette’s committee in the 2013 union election.

Without the membership list of union members along with their addresses, TrueBallot is unable to fulfill their contract to mail out ballots to union members.

It seems WTU President Davis is trying to take a page out of George Parker’s playbook.

How disingenuous for President Davis to announce via a June 2nd union newsletter last week that ballots were mailed out on May 31st. What does this suggest about Davis’ intentions? While sending a meet and greet invite to the entire WTU membership for several campaign mixers during the week of June 6th through 10th, President Elizabeth Davis DOES NOT TELL INVITEES THAT THE BALLOTS HAVE NOT BEEN MAILED!

As the WTU General Vice President, I also received an invite to Davis’ campaign meet and greet at my WTU email address even though I am running for WTU President on another slate, the Peterson slate. Go figure.

It’s also disingenuous that President Davis encourages WTU Building Representatives  to hold their local school elections by a May 31st timeline, yet fails to cooperate with our elected WTU Elections Committee in meeting our deadline to elect a new union president and officers.

And this from the incumbent candidate for WTU president who is running under the questionable banner of “The Responsible WTU Leadership Team”! Is it responsible to deliberately delay an election? Is it responsible to obstruct the duly appointed Elections Committee and use your Chief of Staff to throw every stumbling block possible in their way? Is it responsible to threaten a vendor with non-payment of services rendered after a fair and open competition that resulted in the award of a contract months ago?

Just like in 2010 - WTU Members have a right to move forward as quickly as possible with an election of new WTU Officers. Any continued delays by President Davis are a violation of union member’s rights that amounts to irreparable injury. Board members unanimously agreed that something needed to be done so that members could participate in a fair and democratic internal election.

The five motions passed by the Executive Board on June 4th showed their agreement that WTU incumbent President Davis should stop interfering with union elections and should cooperate with the Elections Committee in submitting the membership list to TruBallot.

Whether the elections happens in June remains to be seen. The Executive Board has given President Davis a deadline of Monday, June 6th at 12 noon to comply with submitting the membership list to TrueBallot.

Time is of the essence. If ballots don’t go out soon, Davis will become our second “HOLD OVER” un-elected union president. In 2010, union elections were delayed due to the following school year since teachers are generally on summer vacation in July and part of August. A delay in union elections will certainly further delay a negotiated contract for teachers.

Unfortunately, Davis has already missed one timeline given by her Executive Board to send TrueBallot an email by Saturday, June 4th with a copy to the Executive Board notifying them that they (TrueBallot) will be paid for services rendered upon completion.

It’s anybody’s guess what will happen next. Stay tuned  for more updates.

© Candi Peterson, 2016

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