Elected DC Chief Promises Reform: Results Challenged

George Parker, newly elected president of the Washington Teachers Union, promised to shed the American Federation of Teachers affiliate's association with corruption, and to take the lead in improving D.C. schools.  But 2 losing candidates are challenging the results of the election, alleging that the AFT officials supervising the election violated their own constitution.

 

Parker, who worked in the WTU office from 1992 to 1997, said that ex-WTU chief Barbara Bullock fired him after he voiced suspicions about her handling of union money.  "I challenged her. I questioned her on why she wasn't putting allocated funds into the pension plan," Parker said. "I went to the Department of Labor, and she felt she needed to fire me."  Bullock has since pled guilty to embezzling $4.6 million from the local union until she and other top local officials were kicked out by the AFT in late 2002.  AFT-appointed administrator George Springer has run the WTU since then, and oversaw the election and runoff, in which Parker was declared the winner over Rachel Hicks, 999-816, at the end of Jan.

 

Hicks, a union field representative, is seeking a new election.  Her campaign asserts that Springer violated the AFT's constitution and other rules by authorizing union staff members to mail out campaign materials, an apparent violation of a rule that Springer set.  Separately, Elizabeth Davis, who lost in the first round of the election in December, claims that Springer violated the constitution by bringing in an outside firm to run the election rather than allowing a union committee to make that decision. She also said the constitution may not have been properly revised last year because it was not sent to all members.

 

Springer said he authorized the union's involvement in the mailing as a compromise to avoid providing each campaign with mailing lists of members. He said he opted to keep the lists private to maintain members' confidentiality.  An election cmte. will hear both challenges, which could be appealed the AFT's natl. HQ. [Washington Post, 2/2/05, 2/4/05]