DAVIS ASKS AFT TO BAIL OUT WTU ELECTIONS
In the latest episode of The Blame Game, WTU President Liz Davis has requested the ‘intervention’ of the American Federation of Teacher’s (AFT) to clean up a WTU Election mess that she created.
In a letter dated May 19th, Ms. Davis stated that, “I have received numerous complaints from candidates who submitted petitions that they have not received notice from the Election Committee that their petitions have been certified for ballot status”. She goes on to say that 12 of the candidates are from her slate, but fails to mention that their petitions were so sloppily prepared that they failed to include a local mailing address at the top of the form to forward the notifications to!
Why did it take the WTU President over two weeks to finally come clean? And only when it became embarrassingly public through a DCPS budget hearing from the lips of the Chancellor at the request of the Education Committee Chair to get it in the public record because he had been getting all these back channel demands for a teacher raise! “The delay is imperiling the WTU elections process”, Ms. Davis concludes as she cries Wolf when she is in charge of the wolf’s den, that includes her Chief of Staff Dorothy Egbufor who has refused to meet or provide administrative support to the Elections Committee to validate the member’s list or provide a point-of-contact from the WTU that has to be published in the election notices. Conveniently, the WTU President approved an extended leave of absence for Jasmine Wright the Membership Services Coordinator creating a perfect storm to further distract from her disastrous track record of NOT getting things done and effectively managing the staff resources at the WTU.
And why would the incumbent President of the union delay her own possible re-election? Because she has been so distracted and disorganized by her last ditch effort to rally teachers to support a series of ‘actions’ to embarrass the Chancellor into returning to the bargaining table. And a number of complaints have been filed that her slate contains multiple members from the same schools, therefore an estimated 25% of her slate members may be disqualified sending her campaign for re-election into a tailspin, so delaying the election is her only option to try to clean up her act.
As you may recall Ms. Davis has spent the last two months trying to salvage contract negotiations with Chancellor Kaya Henderson who disclosed at an April 21st DCPS Budget oversight hearing chaired by Councilman David Grosso. Maybe WTU President did not get the full implications of Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s remarks at an April 21st DC Budget hearing but in case you missed it here’s what she said.
“We had our FINAL negotiation session on April 6th with our mediator and we determined that we could not get to an agreement on a number of key issues. So we have suspended negotiations!’
A full day after the public hearings on April 22nd after the close-of-business, the WTU President sends out a desperate plea to her members under the headline, “A Special Message on Contract Negotiations” urging the WTU members to “take action” to reach out to the Chancellor by calling or emailing her “to tell her to come back to the bargaining table”!
What doesn’t President Davis get? It’s GAME, SET & MATCH – the Chancellor doesn’t want to deal with her. It was her testimony that sealed her own fate at a Fiscal Year 2017 budget hearing chaired by David Grosso of the Council Education Committee and Mr. Grosso was clear that he wanted to get the Chancellor’s response on the record because he had been contacted by teachers through informal channels who thought it was unfair to not get a raise when police and fire union members had gotten their raise.
FAILED TEACHER “ACTIONS”
Instead, she was prepared to waste the efforts of her dwindling support from the WTU membership on the streets at so-called “ACTIONS” at Wilson High and Deale Middle School on May 5th and later this month at Thomson elementary school at the beginning of a Monday downtown rush hour. NEWS 7 reporter Suzanne Kennedy asked the march leader Chris Bergfalk a member of the Davis slate, what they hoped to accomplish and he could only site high teacher turn-over rates and pay raises that DCPS administrators received.
The effort to get the Chancellor to return to the negotiating table through public demonstrations was a resounding failure. This Fool’s Errand has proven to be a useless distraction and resulted in the WTU President taking her eye off the Prize – the Presidency of the WTU which is up for grabs as the current term comes to a screeching halt on June 30, 2016.
I repeat, The Chancellor went on to un-categorically say at her April 21st hearing statement, “We have suspended our negotiations. There is a teachers’ union election that’s happening over the coming weeks and so it is probably best to revisit the negotiations conversation after that election happens.”
It’s clear to anyone listening to this testimony that Mrs. Henderson is through negotiating with the current WTU President and is looking forward to re-activing discussions with her replacement. When Grosso pressed the Chancellor about the lack of teacher raises, she doubled down by saying, “We have been negotiating for three years. There has been no impotence to come to a resolution. If you know that the only money that you are going to get is the budget that is coming up, you will get it done”, said Chancellor Henderson with an exasperated expression on her face.
Henderson says DCPS has been negotiating with the Washington Teacher’s Union since 2013. “This mischaracterization of ‘I don’t want to negotiate for our teachers.’ It’s just not true,” she says.
The Chancellor publicly testified that when both sides couldn’t come to an agreement, they brought in a mediator. But they still couldn’t agree on teacher salaries or how grievances should be resolved. Last month Chancellor Henderson decided to suspend negotiations until after the Washington Teacher’s Union holds its internal elections in early June.
“The closer the elections got, the more urgent and the less rational the conversations became, because there are higher stakes right? And so I would like to move past the election season where we can have regular old conversations again,” Henderson says.
Her description of ‘irrational conversations’ brings us full circle to the elections bail out, because it seems that Ms. Davis was so desperate to salvage the contract negotiations she neglected to get her own act together in forming her re-election slate and submitting clean petitions before the April 29th deadline.
Just like the reality TV show that Donald Trump has turned the national election for President of the United States into, we have a candidate with such high unfavorable ratings (Ms. Davis) that it is hard to fathom her candidacy as anything other than a distracting Independent effort at this stage because it appears that she missed the deadline to get her own slate’s legible and complete petitions into the Elections Committee.
Now she’s trying to move the goal posts down the field by appealing to AFT for intervention in what is more and more looking like a Third World election as she faces the prospect of her three year tenure as WTU President come to a messy and inglorious end!
THE CLIFF HANGER
Will Randi Weingarten AFT President again bailout the WTU as they had to do to shore the union up financially for the White Elephant headquarters building that Nathan Saunders stuck them with after Liz Davis took over at the end of the Saunder’s administration? Will Liz Davis take a page from Saunder’s playbook and try to desperately hold onto power for another few months by contesting the WTU election process and outcome.
As Yogi Berri was want to say, “It’s Deja Vu all over again”!
© 2016 Malcolm Lewis Barnes