District can choose to bargain, or face a strike vote

KEA Bargaining Update —  June 16, 2009

It was the biggest turnout of KEA members in recent memory, and for many, in their entire careers. And as Monday’s general membership unfolded, the most intensely debated question became:

Should we vote now to strike next fall if the district does not begin to bargain fairly, or should we vote in August?

Monday’s meeting coincided with the first day our new superintendent began work, and KEA members chose the more affable approach. With no o11333ne speaking in opposition to the strike-vote motion, the message was clear: Supt. Lee Vargas can choose to hear our concerns and begin to seriously address our time, workload and compensation issues. Or he can attempt to continue the top-down, dictatorial style of former Supt. Grohe, and start the school year amid labor turmoil and a likely strike.

“I think we need to bargain in good faith on our end, and we do have a new superintendent coming in,” one member urged the crowd, adding it’s not yet time to hold a strike threat over the heads of the community. “We are united. We are ready to do what it takes — if we need to.”

“We have sent a very clear message,” another KEA member told the audience. “We are willing to give the district a chance to see what they are made of.”

But after hearing that the district’s main concession in negotiations so far was to agree to add page numbers to our contract, others were more adamant about action.

“I want (to vote today) to strike. I want to vote now,” the member told the crowd. “Do I want to come back in August to vote to strike? Hell no!”

About 700 people attended — the biggest turnout at a KEA membership meeting in years. The final 61 percent vote gives our bargaining team the authority call for a strike vote in August if the district had not yet offered a contract addressing our concerns. The vote total comes with an asterisk, however. A few moments after KEA President Lisa Brackin-Johnson stepped in to close debate because everyone who had lined up to speak favored the plan, another KEA member came to the mic to suggest the motion be changed to allow an immediate strike vote.

Under parliamentary rules, the request came too late, Brackin-Johnson explained. Debate had ended and people already had begun casting their ballots. But if KEA members didn’t want to wait until August, Brackin-Johnson suggested they could vote against the current motion, and if it failed, could then ask to have it reconsidered and amended with an immediate strike vote. Many members began marking their ballots “No” in an effort to force a new motion, but others complained they couldn’t change their vote to “No” because they’d already handed in their ballot. The original motion ended up garnering enough votes to pass, forestalling an immediate strike vote. The approved motion gives the KEA Bargaining Team the authority to call for a strike vote in August.

KEA’s Bargaining Team will continue to meet over summer, and KEA members will participate in additional community awareness activities in July. But the more intense action will likely begin in mid-August if it becomes clear that the district is headed for a potential strike.

Please be sure that KEA has the home e-mail address that you’ll check over the summer so we can reach you with information about crisis action and upcoming meeting dates.

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2 Responses to “District can choose to bargain, or face a strike vote”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I’m curious to see what this new superintendant is made of. Will he be more compassionate? Will he move principals every 5 years, so we can get rid of the control freaks (aka principals) who make disparaging remarks about teachers which affects morale? Will he eliminate those positions within schools that do not help students–you know what I mean–those positions that sound fancy and sound like we need them to report and analyze data, but are really there in place to take the load off the principals’ plates.

    Yeah, unfortunately, there are quite a few principals who follow the philosophy and rhetoric of the old administration–the ones who destroy our schools by mismanaging their school budgets to hire OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM certificated staff.

  2. Voice of Reason Says:

    Let’s get rid of bad principals! Hey, what a concept. The principals who have numerous grievances filed against them.

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