ASTA Reacts to Little Rock School District Union Contract
posted by: Alix | October 20, 2015, 07:12 PM   

In response to the Little Rock School District’s proposed union contract, The Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), the state’s largest non-union professional educators’ association issued the following statement:

As an association serving educators throughout the state of Arkansas, including a fast growing number of Little Rock School District (LRSD) employees, we have deep concerns over the newly proposed union contract in the district.

In effort to monopolize employees and push through an exclusive agreement at all costs, the rushed proposal threatens to erode the authentic LRSD educator voice and teacher autonomy.

Shockingly, the agreement doesn’t require a majority union membership in the district in order to exclusively represent employees. The Little Rock Education Association (LREA) could have twenty-five members in the district and still have exclusive rights to negotiate and fill committee positions. How can an organization negotiate for an entire district in good faith under these conditions? We understand LREA has not certified its membership as set forth in the current contract and many question if a majority of district educators are members of the LREA.

Also perplexing is why the contract dictates grievances be filed exclusively through the union. If LREA “decides that the grievance has merit” then the union will file with the appropriate supervisor. Why would a public school district put such a private and critical process in the hands of an outside organization?

Professional association members and other non-union members alike need options and flexibility, not a one-size-fits-all contract that doesn’t account for the majority of education employees.

“I feel that teachers may be apprehensive about filing a grievance if the procedure means going through the LREA before anything can be done,” said ASTA member and district teacher Ms. Heather Hodges. “I feel it does not best serve them to act as a filter/mediator in situations where educators may want privacy or to simply not seek counsel with the union.”

There is a solution to the contract issue. The district could choose to utilize Arkansas’s Personnel Policy Committee (PPC) law that would allow each school to elect a representative to sit on the district’s PPC committee. Instead of five appointed union members representing union interests, LRSD would have a committee of duly elected educators each representing their schools and the children of LRSD.

The district has made great strides in recent years. While not a bargaining agent, ASTA believes that stakeholders in Little Rock deserve more than a proposal that doesn’t account for teacher autonomy and freedom of choice.

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