Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Exploring Implications of Washington DC Union Election

 “It was a referendum on many fronts,” said Saunders, who received 380 votes to Davis’s 459. “They want more aggressive change than what I was dishing out.” ...Nathan Saunders, defeated Presidential candidate.
We commented on the election the other day (Candi is Dandy as Her Slate Wins Washington DC Union Election Runoff With Saunders).

Interesting how Saunders characterizes "change." Change from Randi-model union of collaboration on sell-out contracts that offer money to buy givebacks towards one of resistance: see Chicago, Newark. Too bad I can't include NYC here. Is it the conditions here that stymies any opposition or are there things a group like MORE should be doing that it is not? I'm torn between both thoughts and want to explore this at the MORE retreat at the end of the month.

Below is an article with some interesting analysis.
Saunders was elected in 2010 after accusing then-WTU President George Parker of being too cozy with management. In office, Saunders sought to strike a cooperative relationship with Henderson, an approach he said was necessary to stay relevant and push for teachers’ interests at a time of nonunionized charter schools’ quick growth.
Having gotten to hang out with Nathan and Candi and be very impressed, we cheered their election at the time (sorry too busy to find all the links but if interested check the archives by searching the blog.) So it took very little time for Saunders to change his tune and play Randi's song. I was astounded.
In recent weeks, Saunders said he was close to finalizing a contract that would include salary increases and provisions that would allow for longer school days and a longer school year. Henderson supports those provisions.
Saunders said negotiations over that contract will fall to Davis, who said she would not comment on how she plans to proceed until she sees the pending contract language.
Davis said one of her first priorities will be to reverse Saunders’s agreement to change the terms of early retirement for teachers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts or school closures.
I would point out that the vote totals are so low there is not much in the way of organizing the winning people have to work with. Note how the constitution calls for the new leadership to take control by July1 but that is being ignored. In the last contract Randi and the AFT intervened in postponing the election that eventually put Saunders in power so Randi could use the old corrupt leadership to get a contract done before a newer supposedly more militant leader could take control. Boy would the worm turn if it is now Saunders who gets to hold on to power to get a new contract done, though his statement seems to negate that.

Of interest is the impact nationally on both the AFT and NEA, both complicit in the ed deform agenda. If I get to it later I'll post some good stuff on the NEA convention currently going on in Atlanta. In the meantime read Raging Horse (Bill Gates Continues To Purchase Major Teacher Unions and At Discount Rates).

Nathan Saunders, D.C. teachers union president, defeated in runoff election

By Emma Brown, Published: July 2 E-mail the writer
Washington Teachers’ Union members voted Monday evening to unseat their incumbent president in favor of a candidate who promised to more forcefully challenge school system management.

Veteran teacher and WTU activist Elizabeth Davis defeated Nathan Saunders with 55 percent of the vote in what both candidates said would be a game-changing election for the union, which is negotiating a new contract.

Emma Brown JUL 2
Elizabeth Davis beats Nathan Saunders in what both are calling a game-changer for the union.
“It was a referendum on many fronts,” said Saunders, who received 380 votes to Davis’s 459. “They want more aggressive change than what I was dishing out.”
Davis’s running mate, Candi Peterson, was also victorious Monday in her bid to serve as the union’s general vice president, a position she held under Saunders until they had a falling out in 2011 and Peterson was forced out. Peterson, a social worker, writes a blog that has been fiercely critical of Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and her predecessor, Michelle A. Rhee.
It is not clear when Davis and Peterson will take over: They say immediately, citing union bylaws, but the WTU elections committee has said it won’t happen until Aug. 1.
In recent weeks, Saunders said he was close to finalizing a contract that would include salary increases and provisions that would allow for longer school days and a longer school year. Henderson supports those provisions.
Saunders said negotiations over that contract will fall to Davis, who said she would not comment on how she plans to proceed until she sees the pending contract language.
Davis said one of her first priorities will be to reverse Saunders’s agreement to change the terms of early retirement for teachers who lose their jobs because of budget cuts or school closures. That agreement with the school system, signed in December, shortchanges veteran teachers, Davis said.
“I hope that Chancellor Henderson will understand that the relationship with the union will have to change in some respects,” she said.
Henderson said in a statement that Saunders had been a “valued partner” and “great advocate for both teachers and students.” She offered congratulations to Davis and said she looked forward to working closely together.
Saunders was elected in 2010 after accusing then-WTU President George Parker of being too cozy with management. In office, Saunders sought to strike a cooperative relationship with Henderson, an approach he said was necessary to stay relevant and push for teachers’ interests at a time of nonunionized charter schools’ quick growth.
Davis, a longtime WTU activist, said Saunders ignored teachers who wanted a stronger voice pushing back against some of Henderson’s decisions, including her closure of 15 schools and her use of “reconstitution,” in which all teachers at a school must reapply for their jobs.
“We do not plan to be a roadblock to school reform or play to the stereotype of a union that blocks improvements, but we do not plan to be silent” on such issues, Davis said.
Davis added that teachers want more input in running the union and a stronger voice in shaping issues that affect teaching and learning, including curriculum, instruction and school climate.
“Teachers want the WTU to be less controlled by one person and more engaged with the full range of issues impacting teachers, students and schools,” she said. “We campaigned on a platform that said the union can be much better.”

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