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While teaching social studies at Banneker Jr. High School, William H. Simons joined Local 27 of the American Federation of Teachers in 1948. Little did he realize then that his life would never be the same. In May 1964, he was elected president of the Washington Teachers' Union. Prior to his assuming this position, he had served as a building representative, corresponding secretary, and parlimentarian of the Union. He had played a piviotal role in the formation of Local 6, the Washington Teachers' Union, which was chartered as a result of the merger of three locals in the city: Local 8 which was the union of white teachers, Local 27 which was the union for colored teachers, and Local 856 which was an intergrated local of attendance officers.
In 1964 the teachers in the District of Columbia did not have the benefits of collective bargaining. Bill Simons immediately emabarked upon the goal of achieving bargaining rights for the teachers. Along the way, he was instrumental in getting the Board of Education to change its meeting time from 2:00 in the afternoon to 7:30 at night. This made it possible for teachers and the community to observe the Board at work. The time change also enabled Bill to dramatize before the Board the concerns of teachers. Before achieving collective bargaining, he gained for teachers the right to review their personnel files and to smoke in the schools.
President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10988 which provided collective bargaining for federal employees was adopted by the District of Columbia for all employees except teachers, police, and firefighters. The Union had urged the Board of Education to adopt the Executive Order. However, the Board refused. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as the Executive Order severely limited the scope of bargaining. Bill, with the assistance of the AFT and the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO, which was then headed by Nicholas Zonarich, began an intensive organizing drive which resulted in a tremendous victory on April 26, 1967 for the Union over the local affiliate of the National Education Association. From that historic moment the meteric career of Bill Simons began to soar.
A native of Washington, DC, William Henry (Bill) Simons was born on June 1, 1924, the fifth child in a family of eight children, to the late Alfred E. and Mattie G Simons. A product of the DC Public School system, he attended John F. Cook Elementary School, Shaw Jr. High, Dunbar Senior High (Class of 1940), and Miner Teachers College (Class of 1947). His college education was interrupted by a stint in the Army during World War II in the European Theater of Operations. He obtained a Masters of Arts Degree from New York University in 1949. Further graduate studies were pursued at Howard University, American University, and the City University of New York. In 1948 he married the former Elaine Valerie Davis. The are the proud parents of Sheryl Patrice of Philadelphia and Wilma Lorraine of Atlanta.
During his twenty-five years of president of the Washington Teachers' Union, the following are among his many notable accomplishments:
In addition to Bill's outstanding service as president for the Washington Teachers' Union his activities in the Labor Movement in the metropolitan area and the nation include:
Bill's record of community service is as extensive as his record of service in the Labor Movement:
Bill treasures the many awards and recognitions which he has received:
The Friends of William H. Simons take great pride in paying tribute to an outstanding citizen of the District of Columbia. We are certain that you will agree with us that he is indeed worthy of such and honor.