Another Arbitration Win

In addition to the arbitration mentioned previously (see Caseload Arbitration, Dec. 6), KEA also prevailed in another arbitration hearing, this one over when KEA Reps could hold meetings in their respective buildings.  KSD, under the watchful eye of Larry Miner, past HR Director, asserted that such meetings could not be held during the work day, including the thirty minutes before and after the school day.  KEA felt that the contract language was clear when it stated, “Representatives duly authorized by the Association shall be permitted to transact official Association business on school property at all reasonable times, provided that this shall not interfere with or interrupt normal school operations.”  (Article III; Section 2)  KEA filed a grievance which was denied by the district and then took the next step of advancing the matter to arbitration.

After hearing evidence from both sides, the arbitrator sustained the grievance and ordered the district to:

  1.  Provide written notice to KEA, withdrawing the demand for approval of meetings at the assistant superintendent level.
  2. Notify building principals and supervisory personnel that KEA is entitled to hold union meetings at all reasonable times that do not interfere with or interrupt normal school operations, including the periods before and after the student day.
  3. Notify building principals and supervisory personnel that while their approval is not necessary for the union to hold a meeting, they are entitled to notice a least one full school day in advance and may suggest a more appropriate time if they believe the meeting would interrupt normal school operations.

The district had tried to assert that their actions were consistent with the WAC (Washington Administrative Code, or state law) which controlled what has been referred to for years as “WAC time.”  Sadly for the district, the legislature repealed that aspect of the WAC in 2006, as the district should have known.  This decision clearly affirms the contract language that union meetings may be held during the thirty minutes before and after the student day (or at any other time, provided there is no interference with normal school operations).  In addition, there is no requirement that KEA inform building administrators of the content of these meetings, nor may the administrator refuse to allow a meeting.

The district did not agree with the decision and asked the arbitrator for reconsideration. The arbitrator declined reconsideration and the decision stands reaffirming KEA’s right.

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11 Responses to “Another Arbitration Win”

  1. Skool is Enportant Says:

    To say we cannot attend a KEA building meeting during “contracted hours” or even a half hour after student dismissal seems kind of petty. My rep will often share info on how we can help this profession by lobbying for issues with our politicians. My rep is also considerate and will tell us that IF we can attend, then please attend. If our district thinks we are so valuable, why don’t I feel that way? Sorry, but I won’t kiss up in order to be treated with respect.

  2. Thinker Says:

    I like our KEA meetings that happen right after the kids leave for the day. It helps my schedule and allows me time to attend without having to stay too late on campus. I am taking some classes outside of work. Why did the district have a problem with this? Why was this grievance filed?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This grievance had to be filed to get the district to honestly interpret the contract language and to ensure that your rights, as KEA members, are maintained and upheld. To say why the district had a problem with this would be to repeat their argument which the arbitrator agreed was more than non-sensical (my words), but they maintained that we didn’t have the right to meet any time during our contracted day and that was wrong.

  3. Frustrated ESA Says:

    I’m confused, did the caseload arbitration mentioned in the Dec 6th post get decided? When I re-read the post it sounded as though the arbitrator had not yet made a decision. If so, can we get an update?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      The decision about caseload language has been made by the arbitrator and our interpretation has been upheld. There are, however, some questions surrounding the arbitrator’s intent in some areas, so before we give out the rundown of that decision, we need to get some clarification. We will keep you posted on what we find out as soon as we can and thanks for your interest.

  4. Frank Says:

    To be frank, I think the district cannot see any side but theirs.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This is why we have to go all the way to arbitration to get anything done and it will continue until administrators start to look at grievance level and lower level disputes as opportunities to problem-solve. As teachers, we deal with this all the time; we even teach problem solving to students, but administration is much more of the “my way or the highway” mentality. They have to change and we will continue to force the issue until they do.

  5. Frank Says:

    Does KEA know if the principals in the district will be re-trained to think more collaboratively? My principal’s definition of “collaboration” seems to be one of: “Let’s talk, but in the end, I make the decisions.” It is a waste of our time to have discussions. Some of my colleagues think they are just jumping through hoops, and their opinions and advice will not matter in the long run, so why try. How pitiful to work in such a school that uses this guise of “collaboration” just so administration looks good to the public eye and to unsuspecting employees.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      According to my sources, principals have been told to try to be more collaborative. I have seen my own principal do something totally out of character by offering to solve a possible grievance at the building level. No lines drawn in the sand, no insults, veiled threats, or hints of the types of retaliation that could occur. I have to admit I was shocked. Now, understand that I don’t expect the leopard to change spots (zebra/stripes, skunk/aroma, insert diametrically oppositional metaphor) that easily. They have a long history of repugnant behavior to live down and a single occurrence of “nice” isn’t going to erase that. I need more. I need to see that change on a regular basis before I am going to start giving out hugs. Vigilance, Frank, is necessary. If administration treats you nicely, accept it graciously, but don’t ever forget where we’ve been and what we’ve had to go through. If you have a recalcitrant principal; one who hasn’t gotten the memo to start working with you, let KEA leadership know. He/she may need a reminder or two about definitions of terms.

      • Frank Says:

        Through my principal’s lens (and what is demonstrated by her behavior), she thinks she’s being collaborative. She will call a meeting, listen to our input, nod her head, and then, not implement any of our ideas, even if it benefits our students. I think we have a larger problem. Our principal is on a power trip. No wonder many people do not feel motivated to do more than they absolutely have to! It feels like HER school, not everyone’s.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        I’m sorry you are having this experience, but it is and has been common in KSD because of the “top down” style adopted years ago and still adhered to by many. Have you spoken to your building rep about this or are you by chance the Rep? It’s entirely possible that a meeting could be called between your Rep and the principal to address the situation. If you and your Rep feel it has already gone too far for that or if you’ve already attempted this, you should contact KEA (253-852-1350) and try to arrange a meeting with Sandra Goveia (new UniServ Rep) or Lisa Brackin-Johnson. I know Sandra has been out in buildings getting to know the principals and it is possible she has already been to your building and started a relationship that can be used to help ease this situation. As I stated earlier, it may be necessary for us, as teachers, to teach administrators what it means to us when they (administrators) say the word “collaboration.” If none of this works, there are other avenues we can follow, but start with these steps and see if you get any satisfaction. Keep us posted as to your progress.

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