Kentucky Teachers Union Demands Pay Raise to Perform Union Business

Contract negotiations between Jefferson County Public Schools and its teachers union have hit an impasse. Union officials want more than the state-mandated 1-percent raise, which is all that JCPS has been willing to offer.

In The Journal-Courier, union officials had choice words for the school district administrators who have not submitted to their demands, which the union will not disclose.

Andrew Bailey, a JCPS high school teacher and a Jefferson County Teachers Association board member, said “I think the district needs to re-evaluate how it’s spending its money … It needs to go to the classroom.”

Bailey went on, “it’s not like the school board doesn’t have the money to pay us. So I don’t see why they don’t want to pay teachers more.”

Well, one reason school administrators may not be in a hurry to give teachers higher pay is because some teachers are paid to perform union business instead of teaching.

The practice is called release time, which allows teachers to step out of the classroom to engage in union business while still collecting their paycheck from taxpayers.

And it just so happens that in FY 2013, Andrew Bailey spent 10 school days on release time to participate in union activity instead of teaching.

Specific activity Bailey performed on release time include setting up the JCTA teacher warehouse, attending union board meetings, and attending the National Education Association Fall Conference. All of Bailey’s release time activity takes him out of the classroom, where he purports public funds need to go.

Mr. Bailey is not the only teacher stepping out of the classroom to perform union business. In FY 2013, JCTA teachers took 192 days of release time at a cost of around $67,215 (check out more release time data, here).

In addition, other Kentucky government employers grant release time. For example, in FY 2012, the City of Louisville authorized a total of 6,955 hours in union release time at a cost to the taxpayers of approximately $156,242. In FY 2011, Louisville authorized 6,321 hours.

Hopefully, JCPS officials take Bailey’s suggestion to reevaluate its spending habits and take action to eliminate union release time.