The Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) has been attempting to oust the teachers’ union for the past two years. Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers (PACT), the teachers union, has fought to keep the union as the recognized bargaining agent for the teachers in the school district. On August 19, 2010 PCSSD asked the teachers to vote — Should there be a personnel policy committee or should PACT remain as the bargaining agent for Pulaski County teachers?
All certified school district teachers and eligible staff voted on this important decision. The votes were tallied and only 16 percent of the staff voted for the personnel policy committee. The other 84 percent voted to keep PACT in place. A total of 1,383 teachers, counselors and administrators voted on the issue. The results should send a clear message to the school board that the staff wishes for PACT to continue on as their representative regarding contract issues.
The PCSSD is trying to make Pulaski County Schools union free. They want a contract written by the board to replace the current teachers’ contract. PACT has taken the school district to court on several occasions over the district’s failure to recognize the union as the legal bargaining agent for teacher contracts. The last court decision stated that in order for PCSSD to legally oust the union, one of the things they must do is put a personnel policy committee in place. This committee would be responsible for negotiating teacher contracts in lieu of a teachers union.
It does not appear that the issue will be laid to rest anytime soon. Two of the school board’s anti-union members are up for re-election this year. Their running mates are pro-union. Ousting PACT is a main talking point in the school board elections this year.
Right now, the PCSSD must recognize the teachers’ union as the bargaining agent. The teachers return to school this week with their old contracts in place. The court has several key issues to rule on regarding the teachers’ current contracts including the the starting time for students attending schools under the Majority-to-Minority transfer rules. A decision is expected within a week.
Should the school board have the right to decide not to deal with the teachers’ union? According to the judges in Arkansas, the Pulaski County School Board and PACT have to resolve their differences. For now, PACT remains and the teachers’ union has the upper hand. Next school year it may be a different story. Expect a very heated school board election in October.
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