I've witnessed the campaign of mis-information, neglect and avoidance of what I consider the number one job of a WTU President - represent the interests of its members in getting a negotiated contract.
It’s December and after 3 plus years of desperately awaiting a teacher contract, DCPS teachers still don’t have a contract thanks to WTU President/Chief Negotiator Davis and former union president Saunders. Teachers are still in limbo and it seems unlikely that there will be a tentative agreement by the end of the calendar year as reported by President Davis in previous union meetings and newsletters. The last WTU contract expired in September 2012.
Prior to the thanksgiving break, teachers were invited to the Kellogg conference center on the campus of Galludet University on November 19 by WTU for a Contract Action and Member Feedback session.
The WTU newsletter billed this event as the “first-ever WTU member engagement event on contract negotiations” and “an opportunity to represent each school chapter utilizing state-of-the-art audience response technology and hand-held devices to interact, analyze and partake in preliminary contract voting and surveying of the full proposals and Articles completed by the WTU contract negotiations team.
Some of the teachers I conversed with during the evening, initially seemed hopeful that this event was finally an indication that Chief Negotiator Davis and the contract negotiations team were a lot closer to a completion of a tentative agreement. By evening’s end, the presentation left teachers clamoring for transparency.
Michelle Smith, a WTU building representative said as she exited, “I don’t know anymore now then when I came.” Another teacher who requested anonymity said, “when will we see what has already been presented to DCPS ? Tonight was more fake transparency.”
Jim Leonard, a veteran teacher and long standing WTU Building Representative at Wilson Senior High school wrote a letter expressing high school teachers concerns who sat at his table at the Kellogg contract negotiations event. Interesting how Jim’s letter similarly concluded that the meeting left a lot of unanswered questions for teachers. "I really think that the time to take the pulse of the rank and file should be behind us. If we have established positions that the team has thoroughly vetted then we should go forward with the process, do the best we can and then bring the results back for a vote. If there is dissatisfaction, then let those members vote the contract down, says Leonard."
While Leonard said he initially planned to email the letter to WTU President Liz Davis, he opted to openly read his letter at the last union meeting of the year in December held at McKinley.
Leonard tactfully confronts teachers concerns in his letter below. Please read and share this blog with teachers you know.
Are we still trying to get the pulse of the membership to see what language should be presented or are we sharing ideas that have already been prepared and presented? I would find it difficult to imagine that we could ever be in a position to complete the process if we do not yet have established goals with language to match already completed.
© Candi Peterson, 2015