In a measure to ensure fair practices are followed in the Washington Teachers Union elections, the American Federation of Teachers has placed the organization under its control. According to the AFT, the action is also part of an ongoing effort to make sure the elections are consistent with WTU’s constitution and don’t involve its day-to-day operations.
WTU President George Parker is being opposed in the election by Vice President Nathan Saunders. Saunders has been a staunch critic of Parker and filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, accusing the president of tampering with the conduct of the election.
The vote was supposed to be held in May, and officers were to be installed by July 1. However, WTU spokeswoman Monique Lenoir said AFT, “which is trying to take over the elections,” wants them held in September while WTU is angling for November. She further stated that the deadline for nominations has been extended.
Meanwhile, AFT has stated that for various reasons – including failure to properly elect an elections committee – the elections were delayed. AFT President Randi Weingarten said although her organization intervened to get WTU to adhere to a democratic process, the new election committee has been stymied in its attempt to carry out the election. “ intervened for one purpose only—to ensure that the WTU membership has the right to a timely and fair election of its officers,” Weingarten said in a recent statement. “Intervention like this is uncommon, and we avoid in every way possible involving ourselves in political differences between union officers.”
The teacher’s federation also claimed that the D.C. teachers union has refused to comply with an Aug. 4 AFT executive council order requiring it to immediately begin election procedures. Weingarten said the order was the result of an investigation conducted by AFT in July.
According to a posting on WTU’s website, in an Aug. 13 letter asking Weingarten to reconsider the intervention, Parker said the election orders are illegal and step on the prerogatives of the WTU executive committee. He further 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.