KSD Refuses To Mediate Unfair Labor Practice, Costing KSD $$$

The Kent Education Association filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) in December 2008, in response to a significant number of violations of state labor law which have been committed by the District.  These violations include failure to negotiate with the Association prior to implementing program changes that create significant increases in workload, the illegal suppression of union activities, failure to provide required information to the Association, failure to abide by grievance settlements, and failure to bargain in good faith.

After reviewing the complaint and receiving a response from the District, PERC invited KEA and KSD to meet with a mediator to attempt to resolve some or all of the issues.  KEA accepted the invitation to enter the mediation process; the District, however, rejected the offer, so the matter will go directly to hearing.  Dates are now being set in mid-September for several days of hearing.  KEA is represented by WEA attorney Jim Gasper, and the District has retained the services of an outside counsel, Lawrence Hannah of Bellevue.  Had the District accepted the offer for mediation, the state would have picked up the tab.  Instead, the choice to go to hearing will cost the District a significant amount in legal fees for outside counsel.  

Kent School District’s administration and School Board claim they cannot afford to pay teachers, but one cannot help but wonder how they can afford to pay an outside counsel, when they employ a full-time attorney already? They have also now hired a professional negotiator, David Alfred, to do the work of the administration in bargaining the 2009-10 contract with the Association.  Why are current KSD administrators unable to complete their jobs without additional help from subcontractors?  Why is the district afraid to mediate the Unfair Labor Practice lawsuit?

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