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Published in Print: January 12, 2005, as Runoff Required for D.C. Union Election

Runoff Required for D.C. Union Election

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The choice of a new leader for the union representing teachers in the District of Columbia—the first since a financial scandal sent its former president to federal prison last year—won’t be decided until a runoff election is held later this month.

In the Washington Teachers Union race that took place last month, George Parker, a high school math teacher and an outspoken critic of former President Barbara A. Bullock, received 520 votes, just six more than Rachel Hicks, a union field representative and a colleague of Ms. Bullock’s.

Two other candidates received a total of 324 votes.

The union’s new constitution requires winners to receive at least 50 percent of the vote. Mr. Parker won less than 40 percent.

Voter turnout for the election was low, with only 1,358 of 4,440 eligible members—fewer than a third—casting ballots.

Call for Participation

As the union, which has been headed by American Federation of Teachers administrator George C. Springer since 2003, was sending out new ballots last week for the runoff between Mr. Parker and Ms. Hicks, it urged members to take the election seriously.

“In the past, there has been some apathy,” said Terence Cooper, a spokesman for the WTU. “But we’re trying to encourage greater membership appreciation.”

The local union’s Web site tells members: “We are challenged to put behind us—but learn from—the operation of WTU prior to June 2002. This election is too important to sit out.”

Mr. Cooper said officials were also working to make any address changes necessary for members to receive ballots and would give them until Jan. 18 to request replacement ballots if they lost one or made a mistake.

The new ballots will be counted on Jan. 26, and the winner will lead the affiliate for the next two years.

When the new president takes over, control of the affiliate by its parent union will end. The AFT took control after it was revealed that Ms. Bullock had embezzled more than $4.6 million from 1995 through 2002— almost her entire tenure as president.

Ms. Bullock, who spent much of the money on designer clothing and furs, is serving a nine-year sentence in federal prison. ("State of the Unions," Feb. 25, 2004.)

Vol. 24, Issue 18, Page 10

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