Archive for the ‘Unfair Labor Practice’ Category

Solidarity with Wisconsin

February 22, 2011

With the situation in Wisconsin continuing, we urge you to sign the online petition that Mary Lindquist, WEA President has sent out to all members.  Much as you may not think so, this is your fight, too.  Saying, “It can’t happen here,” is not going to protect you from the union-busters that are here in our own state.  Make your voice heard along with millions of other union members nationwide.  I am reprinting Mary’s message here (you may have to copy and paste the links into your browser):

I know many of you are following the developments in Wisconsin. Let’s send our suppport of fellow teachers, nurses, firefighters and all public employees of Wisconsin who are fighting for their rights.

Please sign the national petition to support public educators and workers’ rights. Let your voice be heard.

And encourage others to do the same. The online petition is at

In solidarity,
Mary Lindquist
WEA President


Another Arbitration Win

January 3, 2011

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.

Bargaining Suspended; KSD Can’t Justify Own Numbers

September 8, 2009

Following Monday’s vote by KEA members to remain on strike, both bargaining teams returned to the bargaining table for a marathon session from approximately 9:30 pm Monday night until 6:00 am Tuesday morning.  Additional proposals were shared, but KEA pointed out that the District’s most recent proposal was basically unchanged from their previous ones.  At that point, the mediator chossuggested that mediation be temporarily suspended until further notice.   Bargaining is on hold until either side is willing to provide a new proposal.  Thursday’s court hearing on the injunction order will probably influence the next move of both sides.  

Additionally, at about midnight, representatives from KEA’s bargaining team met with KSD’s Executive Director of Finance, John Knutsen, as well as the mediators.  During that meeting, Mike McNett from KEA presented a variety of spreadsheets related to KEA’s class size and caseload proposals.  Mr. McNett and the KEA team proceded to walk Mr. Knutson through their source data, calculations, and methodology to show how KEA’s class size and caseload proposals were created, and where KEA’s projections for the cost of these proposals came from.  Mr. Knutson, however, brought only a few papers to justify the claims made by KSD about how much these proposals will cost.  He was unable to provide any specifics about how KSD arrived at their cost and staffing calculations, nor could he outline the source of their data, their calculations, or their methodology as KEA had done.  It is the belief of the KEA Bargaining Team, therefore, that the numbers that the Kent School District has claimed in the press about the financial impact of KEA’s proposals are suspect at best, and fabricated at worst. 

Subsequently, KEA has sent a request for information to Dr. Vargas, John Knutson, and KSD’s Chief Bargainer, Dave Alfred, asking that they provide KEA with any documents that might justify their cost and staffing numbers.  KEA hopes that a further discussion of the numbers each side uses, and how they arrived at those numbers, may help to resolve the current impasse.  Unfortunately, the Kent School District has in the past frequently refused or has been slow to provide documents requested by KEA, despite the fact that it is legally obligated to make all District documents a matter of public record.  (This is one of the formal complaints in the Unfair Labor Practice that KEA has already filed against the District.  The ULP hearings will begin on September 21st.) 

We hope that KSD provides any documents related to their calculations in a timely manner as a show of good faith bargaining.  Hopefully this does not become yet another example of KSD dragging its feet in the hopes of delaying active and productive bargaining.

It’s Time To Be Heard! It’s Time For Change!

May 21, 2009

On Wednesday, May 27th, KEA once again calls upon its mebers to rally before the School Board meeting.  Once again, we ask that members gather in front of the KSD Administration Building at 6:30, and then enter the meeting at 7 pm to make their presence felt with the School Board.  Several KEA members are expected to speak during the public comments section of the meeting.

There are only three more Board meetings left:  May 27th and June 10th and 24th.  We especially want to have a presence at the next two meetings to keep pressure on the School Board to make better decisions about the KSD budget and spending priorities.  This is especially true with news that Dr. Grohe’s last day is June 15th! 

As our new superintendent, Dr. Vargas, begins his tenure, he needs to know that Kent Education Association members are not happy with the status quo.  We are not happy with being treated as less than the professionals we are.  We are not happy with the recent RIF’s that will cause good teachers and staff to leave our District, not to mention increase our class sizes and case loads.  We are not happy that KSD’s proposed budget cuts do not include salary reductions or reduction of top-level Administration positions, even as they RIF teachers and cut essential staffing and programs that our kids need.  We are not happy with being the lowest paid teachers in the Puget Sound region.  We are not happy with the fact that while our workload increases each year, our time to complete these tasks continues to be taken up with Administrative busy work, meetings, and other distractions.  We are not happy with the fact that the contract and state law are regularly violated by Kent School District administrators, causing countless grievances and an Unfair Labor Practice filing.   We are not happy with the District’s bargaining proposals that would further damage the relationship between the District and its employees, as well as the education of our students.  And we are not happy that the KSD has posted distorted “facts” that “compare” KEA and KSD contract proposals on their website. 

There are only a few more opportunities available before the summer to make your voices heard and your presence felt.  We need to leave the District with a clear understanding that things must change.  It is only through our collective work that things will change at the Bargaining Table.

Please plan on attending Wednesday’s rally, and bring your family, friends, and neighbors with you!

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

May 6, 2009

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?