Thursday, May 6, 2010

Weingarten Interferes in DC Union Elections

History has taught us that autocrats will never give up power and will resort to illegal means to keep absolutism intact. I would bet my pension that even if some miracle occurred and the opposition won an election here in NYC, the Unity machine would find ways to invalidate the election. (When the opposition once won the high school VEEP position in the mid-80's, Unity delayed his seating for a year by claiming illegalities in an election they ran - and won the right for a do-over.)

Ed Notes has been reporting on the Washington DC and Chicago teacher union elections. Both cities are hotbeds of potential activism and if Nathan Saunders and/or Karen Lewis (CORE) were to be elected, would indicate potential trouble for AFT President Randi Weingarten. Not that she has to worry too much with the NYC Unity Caucus machine being able to control the NY state NYSUT which in turn controls the AFT. But we know that Randi wants ZERO OPPOSITION and will do what she can to undercut the ability of these candidates to win.

In Chicago there are 5 or 6 caucuses running and Randi will wait out what is sure to be a runoff. If CORE is one of the two left standing, just watch the AFT jump into the fray.

Washington DC is a particularly interesting case where both Randi and Michelle Rhee's reps are on the line if Saunders should win. So now we hear the AFT is "getting involved" in the DC election.

With elections in Washington DC about to take place, the AFT goon squad is out to undermine them. They found some excuse and there is talk about including the contract vote ballot in the same envelope as the election ballot. If true, why are we not surprised here in NYC?

There is also some talk (see EIA report below) about the AFT using the excuse that not enough people are on the ballot for AFT delegates to the Seattle convention (supposedly 4 are running and there are 20 positions) and that is reason enough to postpone the elections. (Unity sends 800 on a junket but other locals who can't afford to send a full complement often send fewer people with each entitled to vote for the rest. In other words, since Unity votes as a block, we could send 1 delegate who can cast 800 votes.)

The real reason is that Randi/Rhee/Parker are anxious to get the contract vote done before the election, which if Saunders wins will kill any chance of the contract Randi and Rhee want. With problems over the private money being assured, it is clear that the election will be done beforehand and Randi is trying to figure out a way to undermine it.

Is anyone surprised that Randi is more aligned with Rhee - remember my basic rule - ignore what Randi says, watch what she does? So here is Nathan Saunders' piece in today's TheMail.

Is AFT Undermining DC Teachers? by Nathan Saunders,
WTU Presidential candidate

Intense public school budget hearings on April 30 evidenced the significant impact WTU teachers have on the city’s budget. Charter school advocates presented the government a demand letter for comparable wages to the WTU Tentative Agreement (TA), or they would seek court action. A magnanimous Chief Financial Officer Gandhi refused to certify the TA’s financial soundness while simultaneously scaling back other programs and possibly raising taxes to reduce a $530 million deficit.

The 1960’s legislation allowing exclusive representation of DC’s Public teachers was theorized to encourage mutual cooperation yielding increased workplace productivity.

Unfortunately, some of the industrial labor union’s ills and social injustices, such as paternalism, permeated the teachers’ union movement.

Oftentimes national union interests will attack local dissident opinion by influencing union elections, producing propaganda, and controlling issues. All the while repeating, ad nauseam, “We never get involved in local issues.”

Amazingly, this is like the letter the American Federation of Teachers sent home to all DC teachers implying that the May 2010 elections will probably be delayed. Federal legislation, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, was created to combat union member abuses involving violations of free speech, violence, and elections tampering. It forces elections every three years and gives union members a special bill of rights akin to the US Constitution.

Empowering WTU teachers in democratic management and advocacy for themselves and their students is an often neglected education reform that is affordable. Paternalism is most dangerous in teachers’ unions, as it makes teachers feel trapped with two bosses — the DC Government and the AFT/WTU — their own union. Union democracy is suppressed.

The AFT should not be involved in the May 2010 union election or the upcoming contract ratification vote, as their ability to exercise self-control will deter additional controversies and challenges. The federal Department of Labor should be involved.

Unfortunately, the president of the AFT parent union, Randi Weingarten, is deeply entangled in election shenanigans, potentially stalling WTU’s election schedule past its constitutionally required May 2010 date. Her beneficiary is WTU President George Parker the embattled negotiator of the Rhee/Parker tentative agreement. The agreement was supposed to harvest elections benefits of 20 percent pay raises, without members knowing most would probably be terminated or that a portion of the raises was financed with blood money of wrongfully terminated teachers, and the only job security in the deal belonged to Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

The problem with Weingarten’s election meddling is that it makes DC teachers more vulnerable. Teachers are about to deal with hundreds of year-end layoffs, a hard summer fight to support a mayoral candidate and leaving approximately eighty other elected positions unfilled (Elections Committee, Delegates to the Maryland State AFL-CIO, and others). It smells to high heaven.

Any desire to place an election ballot with a contract ratification ballot in the same envelope is selfish and belittles the WTU’s members’ intelligence. Common sense, time, and economic realities may have broken up the Fenty/Rhee/Parker/Weingarten playbook, but law and the WTU’s Constitution require a paternalistic AFT to step aside and to allow dues paying members to vote on their future — now.


Here is Mike Antonucci's take - at EIA. Remember, he is an anti-teacher union guy always looking to pick at the bones of union ineptitude, but he does cover issues no one else does.

Union Elections Are Contests Between Apathy and Ignorance

Eduwonk reports that the upcoming election for the presidency of the Washington Teachers Union has a problem – not enough WTU members want to be on the election committee. For that matter, not enough WTU members want to be delegates to the AFT convention. As a result, AFT is going to provide “assistance and limited oversight.”

Problem solved, right? Not exactly. WTU Vice President Nathan A. Saunders, who is running against incumbent George Parker, says he didn’t ask for, nor does he want, AFT intervention. He believes AFT is deeply invested in Parker and is trying to guarantee a win for him.

“It is absolutely crazy,” Saunders said. “The AFT can’t hold an impartial election.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks as always for your coverage on national union issues.



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