In the past two years, the Jefferson Federation of Teachers (JFT) and Jefferson Parish public school system have tried, unsuccessfully, to come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The contentious contract negotiations have centered around whether the CBA primarily benefits teachers or students.
According to NOLA.com, “union representatives contend that by protecting teachers’ rights, the agreement would have created an environment in which students would best excel.”
Whereas Jefferson Parrish School Board officials counter that the “pact was focused on teachers rather than on student achievement.”
After perusing the proposed teachers union contract, it is clear a number of provisions in the contract do extend the JFT privileges that benefit the union, but do not contribute to student achievement.
Below are a couple of union-friendly provisions in the CBA that should be removed before the contract is ratified.
Section 2:04 – Accretions to the Bargaining Unit:
Should a job classification be established or if a position in the bargaining unit is reclassified, and such a newly established classification or reclassification does not require the recommending of the hiring, firing, and/or disciplining members of the bargaining unit, the members of such job classification shall be part of the bargaining unit, provided this paragraph shall apply only to work performed by certified teachers whose functions are substantially similar to the functions or persons already in the bargaining unit.
In short, the above section forces newly created positions or reclassified employees into the JFT. These workers are not afforded a chance to vote for, or against, union representation and must accept the terms of the union negotiated contract. All workers should have a say in their own representation and not have a union forced on them.
Section 3:08 – Dues Deduction:
The Board agrees to deduct Federation dues from the pay of any teacher in the bargaining unit who authorizes such deduction in writing. Such authorization shall be continued from year to year unless revoked in writing between June 1 and June 30. With respect to all dues deducted by the Board pursuant to such authorization, the Board agrees to promptly remit said dues to the Federation for each pay period along with a monthly computer printout listing the teachers for whom dues have been deducted. Federation membership lists/payroll deduction lists shall not be distributed by the Board.
The “Dues Deduction” section is a straightforward condition that mandates all schools in the Jefferson Parrish school system use government resources to deduct union dues from public employees’ paychecks. Tax dollars and resources should not be used to promote the private interests of government unions.
Section 3:13 – Federation Leaves, Teachers selected by the Federation to attend conferences, conventions and/or workshops conducted by the Federation and/or its affliates on teacher employment days shall be granted leave with permission of the Chief Networks Officer and shall not suffer loss of pay or deduction from sick/emergency or personal leave. The Federation shall reimburse the Board for the salary of the substitute teacher(s).
Federation leaves, also known as release time, is a direct subsidy to public-employee unions. Release time allows public employees to act as a union representative while taxpayers continue to pay their government salary.
Section 3:17 – Negotiations, Bargaining team members, designated by the Federation, shall be excused without loss of pay or other benfits during the normal teacher work day for those occasions necessary to prepare contract proposals and/or to attend bargaining sessions. The total number of teacher days to prepare contract proposlas shall not exceed five (5).
Section 3:17 is just another kind of release time that uses tax dollars to pay union officials to negotiate a contract for its members. Union dues are supposed to pay for union representation, which includes negotiating a contract.
JFT officials claim that “protecting teachers’ rights” leads to student success, but can that really be the case when the union proposes contract terms that take teachers out of the classroom to perform union work.
So until JFT offers a more reasonable contract that keeps tax dollars in the classroom, the Jefferson Parrish School Board should continue to reject the unions proposed CBA.