We’ll Be Right Back!
- Published on Jun 13, 2014
- Written by Scott Farnsworth-Editor
Have a Well-Deserved Summer Break in the Meantime!
My apologies for that headline – I know how disappointing it feels when someone skips right over a time that has been anxiously anticipated for several weeks. I am quite sure that I will see the “Back to School” signs pop up at my part-time job at Barnes and Noble in two weeks or so – right along with the first round of 2015 calendars (I kid you not – a little earlier each year. I believe the goal is to eventually squeeze two Christmas shopping seasons into a single calendar year!)!
My point with that lead-in, however, is that it is going to be a summer “away” from the classroom, but not from the myriad of serious issues that will impact public education in general and Kenosha Unified in particular. To name a few items on the summer “agenda”: the naming of a new Superintendent; consideration of the direction of the 2014-15 budget; expected rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court (on Fair Share dues), the Wisconsin Supreme Court and local judges on lawsuits that could impact the status of our collective bargaining agreements for good or for ill; heightening political activity going into the crucial November elections; not to mention any actions our School Board might take on any number of issues, from those that could have a significant impact on the rights and working conditions to which you return, to changes to class size policies, curriculum development and adoption – and on and on.
In other words: it’s going to be another very busy summer – so don’t fall asleep in the sun!
At this week’s meetings of the School Board Standing Committees, for example, the District’s Financial Director, Tarik Hamdan, provided the Budget/Finance Committee with the numbers of the “preliminary budget projections” for next year. In that presentation, the preliminary “increase” assigned to employee salaries was 1%. While it was emphasized that the numbers were provided to the Board to present a “balanced budget,” and that changes could and would most certainly be made, nevertheless, that number begs some questioning.
- Published on Jun 13, 2014
- Written by juan F. Jiménez, Acting Executive Director
From all the officers and staff at the KEA, allow me to say thank you for your service this year to help the children of Kenosha Unified School District. It is through your efforts every day that this District is able to help children succeed. Whether you are a teacher, ESP, substitute, interpreter, or carpenter and painter, each one of you has helped make the lives of children better, despite the heartaches and frustrations of the past few years. I truly hope you are able to enjoy a summer break and time with loved ones enjoying a less stressful time.
Nevertheless, the KEA officers and staff will be working hard to continue to battle for quality wages, hours, and working conditions for your return in the 2014-2015 school year. Just within the last month of the school year, this District Board and administration have done significant damage to the relationships between your legal representatives and their representatives. We will not stop pushing the District to do the right thing. It takes effort from all of us to ensure this District does the right thing, and please be prepared to answer the call if we ask for your help. Here are some things that will possibly happen this summer.
We are still waiting for the Act 10 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. We do not know when the ruling will be handed down; however, the KEA intends to call a general membership meeting as soon as practicable after the ruling to explain to our members the meaning of the ruling and how it will affect KEA. Please keep your eyes peeled for information regarding this meeting.
Once that ruling is issued, the lawsuits regarding the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), KUSD, and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) will proceed. We will also keep members informed regarding what happens on this front.
Of immediate concern, the District was considering the elimination of the Long Term Care coverage for all employees, which would have also impacted all the retirees who were promised this coverage. According to the KUSD website, the District administration was recommending to the Board of Education to continue the coverage, and keep things as they are for people who have already retired; however, “effective July 1, 2014, no new retirees will be enrolled in the plan.” This is a pretty vague statement. The KEA will follow up on what this means. This is a huge victory for the KEA, as we have had numerous discussions with the District regarding this point. For two years, we have warned the District of the dire consequences, which could have included litigation by either the KEA or individuals, if the District terminated the coverage. Thank you to the KEA and KEA-Retired members who showed up at each School Board meeting to ensure the District did the right thing. If people retiring at the end of the current school year have issues or concerns in regards to this coverage, please contact the KEA office.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
- Published on Jun 06, 2014
- Written by Juan F. Jiménez, Acting Executive Director
This statement is one of my favorites because of its – well – truth! Even people like Judge Judy will tell you to tell the truth because, if for no other reason, it’s the easiest thing to remember. I do not feel, however, that the District has been telling people the truth when it comes to relations with the KEA and I believe it is imperative for you to know what is happening and why it is so important to you. Sometimes, we do not worry about things which have no immediate impact in our life; nevertheless, those are precisely the things for which we should be wary. It’s those little things which can impact you in a huge way down the line.
This week, the Board of Education will vote on a settlement agreement with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty lawsuit regarding the collective bargaining agreements for all employee groups. If the Kenosha News is correct, the District is looking to pay $10,500 in attorney fees, as well as state that the collective bargaining agreements are void.
If the District agrees to this settlement agreement, does that mean the contracts are void?
The very simple answer is an unequivocal NO!
The lawsuit would still proceed. Judge Bastianelli’s, “Order Denying Motion For Temporary Injunction,” dated December 16, 2013, is still in effect. WILL had wanted Judge Bastianelli to enjoin the collective bargaining agreements – in other words, halt the implementation of the collective bargaining agreements until the case was concluded. Judge Bastianelli DENIED that motion. Thus, the collective bargaining agreements are still in place. No court of law has issued anything contrary to Judge Bastianelli’s order. If any administrator tells you that you have no contract or no rights, THEY ARE LYING! Purely and simply put, it is a lie. I am not going to stand for untruthfulness nor should you. The KEA will continue to use any and all legal means necessary to ensure that the District follows through on the promise made on November 15, 2014. Until Judge Bastianelli makes a final decision, our collective bargaining agreements must be enforced by the District, no matter what settlement they make at their special board meeting.
Of course, as I stated in a previous GLUE article, the District is claiming the KEA is decertified and, therefore, people are not entitled to representation. Again, this is a LIE. To reiterate, we have collective bargaining agreements which state that the KEA is the certified bargaining agent for all five units. No judge has said otherwise. Thus, each time the District denies representation, it is opening itself up to yet ANOTHER lawsuit, as the KEA has already filed against the KUSD on the decertification claim. Talk about taking money out of the classroom to spend frivolously.
A reasonable person would ask, “Why would the District continuously pay a law firm to defend a position they know to be contrary to the truth?”
Put simply, they are afraid of finding out their illusion of having absolute power over employees is a lie. This employer is running scared – hoping to grab a hold of anything and everything they can to continue the illusion, but just like fog meeting sunshine, that illusion will evaporate with the light of truth. Unless and until a court of law states otherwise and all legal options are pursued to their completion, we have valid and ratified collective bargaining agreements and they must treat you as EQUALS. It is this equality which led the Kenosha Unified School District to be hailed as a stellar school district in the past.
Do not be afraid to assert your rights. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by untruths and lies. Have your administrator give you a copy of whatever the District is using to support that the KEA is decertified or that the collective bargaining agreements are not in effect. If it is not from a judge, from a competent court of law in the state of Wisconsin, then the words are nothing but hot air.
“Yes, there’s a trust issue.” – Tamarra Coleman
- Published on Jun 06, 2014
- Written by Scott Farnsworth-Editor
Thursday night, the School Board voted 4-3 to settle the lawsuit brought against the collective bargaining agreements. As implied in news articles leading up to the special meeting, and based on the public comments of School Board members during debate, that settlement will include voiding the agreements and moving to re-establish a Handbook, the exact language of the “settlement” having been withheld under the pretense of “attorney-client privilege.”
Obviously, the KEA will take whatever legal steps prove available to challenge and block this decision, which we have long told the District, and which make the professed reasoning (that being a generous phrase) of those on the Board who supported this action – that, “We need to take action so that this District can move forward,” – hollow at best.
Speaking of “trust”:
The meeting provided a perfect example of how things will work in this District should the forces out to destroy public sector unions attain their goal. I know there are those who have dismissed the $1,000,000 liability insurance benefit of membership in the KEA as non-essential, arguing that anyone who would sue an educator would sue the District as well, and so the district would defend her/him.
Well, the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty brought suit against the District, and also against the four School Board members who voted for the contracts individually. For the past six months, those four Board members were, in fact, defended by the lawyer for the District’s insurance company – right up to Thursday. During the debate on the motion – in fact, in the motion itself (made by Mary Snyder) – it was made clear that the settlement being voted on by the School Board as a whole placed no obligation on, nor did it include, a motion to settle the suits brought against the individual Board members. They would be free to make their own decision and – should they not wish to sign a settlement – would be free to continue to defend themselves against the suit… at their own expense and liability.
Last Union Dues Deduction Will Be June 11th
- Published on Jun 06, 2014
- Written by KEA
ARs set Budget and Dues for 2014-15
Some members have been inquiring about whether union dues would be collected throughout the summer. To clarify, dues are collected only through the first pay period in June, Wednesday, the 11th. If you have not checked recently, please also be aware that your deductions for the two pay periods in May and the final deduction next week are at a reduced level. This is to compensate members for the 20% reduction in local dues passed by the ARs in February.
The KEA ARs passed a 2014-15 KEA Budget Thursday, June 5th, that maintains dues for next year at the same rate – there was a small adjustment to correct an error made in the reduced dues from this year. Dues – KEA, WEAC and NEA combined, will be $848.16 for full-time teachers, and $344.09 for full-time Education Support Professionals. The ARs voted to reduce dues for teachers by $5, and dues for ESPs by $2.50, and increase the PAC contributions for each group by the same amount, so that extra PAC funding could be collected at the beginning of next year in a special assessment to assist in the crucial fall election cycle, while not changing the total amount collected.
Dues for the 2014-15 school year, for those who have elected to pay through the Electronic Funds Transfer option, will begin with the first pay period in October (currently scheduled as October 1st), and run for 19 pay periods through the first pay period in June of 2015.