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D.C. Public Schools and the Washington Teachers' Union are set to begin negotiations for a new contract Oct. 20, and both sides are hopeful the process won't be as difficult this time around.
Three years of the current five-year contract had to be implemented retroactively because negotiations were contentious, drawn out, and eventually needed a mediator. Nathan Saunders, president of the WTU, says that won't be the case this time.
But he says there are several issues he wants revisited, including more job security and better compensation for teachers. Saunders also says the process by which teachers can resolve disputes needs to be simplified.
"Normally you find management saying, 'well the union contract is cumbersome and it restricts us,'" he says. "This contract is a scenario in which the grievance and arbitration is cumbersome and restricts the employees."
Saunders won the post as president of the WTU by campaigning on the platform that the former leader had not been tough enough and had given in to too many DCPS demands. The current contract allows management to remove teachers based on their effectiveness rather than seniority. It expires Sept. 30, 2012.