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Laid Off D.C. Teachers Criticize Union's Efforts To Help Them Keep Their Jobs

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By Kavitha Cardoza

After losing a court challenge, several teachers laid off from D.C. public schools are now criticizing the union for not being proactive enough in helping them keep their jobs.

Crystal Proctor is one of several teachers who say union lawyers were not well prepared in court when they argued in favor of reinstating the more than 250 teachers. "We don't think that the legal representation was competent," says Proctor. "Watching our attorney perform, it was laughable. It was ridiculous."

Another teacher Natasha Mason says she didn't get replies when she sent emails to her union representative. She says she's gotten "nothing" out of her membership. "I'm totally disappointed," says Mason. "It's a pity we've been paying all this money into people to protect us and represent us and to stand up for what our rights are none of it has been done."

But George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union, says this is the first time the union has gone to court to fight for laid off teachers. Also, he says there have been rallies and several meetings with the teachers. "I understand that there are some teachers who are very upset and it's understandable, but any claim that the union has not put out a tremendous effort for it's members is simply not true," says Parker.

Several of the teachers say they've hired private attorneys and have filed appeals with the Office of Employee Appeals.

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