City teachers vote to keep English as union chief Board members backed by president also elected

May 20, 1998|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Teachers Union members voted yesterday to keep Marietta English as president and elected executive board members backed by her and Lorretta Johnson, who heads the BTU teacher aide chapter.

"I'm just happy I won," English said. "I think the teachers feel like I will bring unity to this union that it needs. They also know I'm fighting for their rights and that I believe in them."

English became president of the union in January, after Marcia Brown stepped down to take another job. Brown had won the office in 1996 from Irene Dandridge, who had been president of the teacher union chapter for 17 years.

Dandridge's name did not appear on Tuesday's ballot, but the election of English and her slate of candidates represented a defeat for the former union president. Dandridge had her slate running for 21 executive board seats.

'Infractions' charged

Dandridge said she left the union's office after her team was not permitted to have any monitors present as the votes were counted. She claimed many "infractions" in the way the election was handled.

"I am sure the leadership of the AFT [American Federation of Teachers] would not condone the way this election was handled," Dandridge said. "It's a real mess. Teachers are just in a rage over it."

Laura Boursalian, BTU public relations director, released a list of the winning candidates at 10: 30 p.m., 5 1/2 hours after the polls closed, but said the union decided not to publicly release vote totals of all candidates.

She said English won by 377 votes in the presidential race. The other candidates for that office were Peggy J. Waller, Charles A. Dugger, Adolph McDonald and Margo Young.

Boursalian said about 950 union members from the teacher and teacher aide chapters voted in the election. The BTU has about 7,000 members in its teacher chapter and about 1,500 in its teacher aide chapter, she said.

Clash forms backdrop

The clash between one-time political allies Dandridge and Johnson provided much of the behind-the-scenes drama in this year's election. Dandridge sued the union in an unsuccessful attempt to block the election when she was kept off the ballot.

The BTU's executive board had ruled Dandridge was ineligible to run after finding she was no longer an active union member. Dandridge maintains she was improperly excluded and has called for an investigation by the AFT.

Other BTU officers elected yesterday were: Brian Dale, executive vice president; Thomas Frasier, vice president; Carol S. Copeland, secretary; and Ella Hamilton, treasurer, according to Boursalian.

The union's teacher chapter also elected 12 vice presidents to serve on the executive board and four at-large members to the executive board.

Johnson ran unopposed as president of the teacher aide chapter, as did other officers within that chapter.

Pub Date: 5/20/98

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