The following is an excerpt from our Saturday email, which includes our musings on the latest developments impacting public employees, links to that week’s labor news, and a collection of whimsical reads for your weekend. If you’d like to receive our weekly email, you can use the sign-up form at the bottom of this page. We promise to respect your inbox, and we will never share your email address.
We often think about the relationship between an employer and a union as a contentious one. After all, they represent different interests at the bargaining table and go head-to-head in negotiations.
But both employers and unions also use that relationship to avoid responsibility when things go wrong.
This week, an AFFT member saw that play out firsthand when she confronted her school board after being involuntarily transferred from her position.
She sent a letter to her school board explaining why they should reconsider. Their response? ‘It’s the union contract’s fault, not ours.’
As it turns out, her collective bargaining agreement—with wording agreed to by both the school district and the union—allows the superintendent to make decisions “for the good of the district.” This broad language essentially allows the school to transfer the teacher as they wish and erases any recourse she has if she believes there are questionable motives behind it all.
Because neither the school board nor union would address her concerns, this teacher has had to turn to her community for assistance. She is asking people such as former students to contact the superintendent/school board to make the case that she should stay in her position. No teacher represented by a union should find themselves caught in between and left without representation.
With two parties in negotiations, there’s always someone else to blame. And this story serves as a reminder as to why both employers and unions often support collective bargaining for reasons that can hurt employees.