Fedenko Elected GFT President; Says He’ll “Extend a Hand” to All Sides

266

Guam – The Guam Federation of Teachers has elected Tim Fedenko its new President.

Current President Matt Rector posted the results on his Facebook page and they are:

Election results for GFT President

1. Tim Fedenko :                    195 votes

2. Carol Taitano Somerfleck:  134 votes

3. Edward Quintanilla:                6 votes

Rector told PNC in a phone interview Sunday that Fedenko will take over the position of  GFT President on June 20. Rector said he will be leaving Guam to return to California on the 22ed.

The voting was conducted over the past few weeks. Mail-in and walk-in ballots were accepted. The votes were counted Saturday morning and the results released shortly afterwards.

In a phone interview Sunday, President elect Fedenko said he will “continue moving the union forward,”  but he acknowledged that he has to do “a little healing on the inside to get everyone back in the right direction.”  The turmoil within the GFT in recent years has “split the  union for a little bit” and he said he will “extend a hand” to all sides.

As far as the teachers are concerned, the union contract is his top priority, said Fedenko, although he said there are a number of  important issues with the other bargaining groups he will be representing at the Hospital, the Port and with the bus drivers.

Fedenko said he agrees with outgoing President Rector that the teacher’s union contract is still in effect until August because that is what the minutes of the Education Board’s meeting last November show.

However the Board, on advice of attorney, subsequently ruled last December that an extension had to be signed. Rector refused to sign the extension, and Fedenklo said he too would have refused to sign because the extension authorized some change to the original contract that the union had not agreed to.

However, Fedenko noted that the spirit of the contract is being honored by everybody, “even though according to some people its null and void.” However, the expiration is coming up soon in August so negotiations to re-new the contract must get underway in earnest soon.

Fedneko is currently a teacher at Price Elementary.  He told PNC News he plans to continue teaching while carrying out the additional responsibilities of union President.

Somerfleck has not yet returned a call for comment.

he Guam Federation of Teachers has elected Tim Fedenko, an elementary school teacher and former vice president of the union, president of GFT.

Polls for the election closed Friday and results were announced yesterday. It was the end of a saga that started in February 2011, when the union’s original election was contested. A new one was later ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The three candidates for the 2012 election were: Fedenko; Carol Somerfleck, an elementary school teacher; and Edward Quintanilla, a school bus dispatcher. Matt Rector, long-time president of GFT, withdrew his candidacy this April.

In April, Rector pleaded no contest to a charge of unsworn falsification in a deferred plea agreement with the Superior Court of Guam.

“I’m honored that they chose me to lead the union,” Fedenko said. “We’re going to keep going with what we’re doing. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Fedenko said the union is working with contracts involving the Department of Public Works, the Port Authority of Guam, school teachers, and others.

He said the union is waiting to get back to the negotiating table on the teachers’ contract, which expired last November.

Last month the union filed an unfair labor practice claim with the Department of Administration over a new high school schedule that will increase teacher work hours and add an additional class to teacher workloads.

“This change we feel is totally illegal,” Fedenko said.

2011 election

The union’s February 2011 election was challenged by Somerfleck, who was defeated by Rector.

Somerfleck said seven schools weren’t included as polling sites for the election, leaving out more than 100 potential votes, according to Pacific Daily News files. Rector won the 2011 election by a margin of about 30, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Somerfleck filed multiple election protests that were rejected by the American Federation of Teachers before turning to the Department of Labor, which held an extensive investigation, PDN files state.

The union didn’t admit to intentionally violating the law, but recognized that omissions in the phrasing of the election notice resulted in members at the seven schools, which were listed as poll sites, not being informed that they could vote at the GFT office when volunteer pollsters didn’t appear to open those poll sites, according to PDN files.