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Colo. Springs Teachers Union Doesn’t Want to Open Negotiations: I Wonder Why?

Last week I told you that the Colorado Springs District 11 school board had voted to open union contract negotiations up for public observation. Today, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the CSEA (the local teachers union) has blackballed the idea:

The board of the Colorado Springs Education Association voted unanimously to turn down a request by the D-11 school board to hold the meetings in public.

In a letter to the D-11 board Wednesday, CSEA President Kevin Marshall said Tuesday’s vote was to “protect the integrity of the collective bargaining agreement between teachers and safeguard the future of children by keeping the negotiations private.”

“Safeguard the future of children”… from whom: Parents? Taxpayers? Journalists? “Protect the integrity of the collective bargaining agreement”… so that’s the priority? Let’s not be surprised here. Besides the obvious seniority-based salary and benefits, what kind of items in the CSEA-D11 master agreement (PDF) might they be trying to protect? Here’s a list of examples all found in Article III under “Association Rights”:

  • “The District agrees to deduct from the salaries of teachers who are not members of the Association an amount equal to the annual Association dues which are voluntarily authorized by such teachers. Voluntary authorization on the part of such teachers shall be deemed to have occurred unless proper written notice to the contrary is provided to the District and the Association on a jointly approved form.” (III-D-1) Yep, it says non-union members have to opt out of paying the full union dues each year by September 10.
  • The building union rep is guaranteed “the use of the school’s communication system to make announcements at appropriate times” (III-F-2-c)
  • “The Association shall have the right to place materials related to Association business on bulletin boards and in teachers’ mailboxes” (III-H-3), but don’t try to distribute flyers announcing a professional development opportunity co-sponsored by a non-union teachers group.
  • The CSEA president “has the right to assign an Association member to the initial interviewing committee considering applicants for District positions” and to “appoint members to other District committees as desired” (III-G) At least the union president no longer has the power to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars from a professional development fund.
  • “The Association President and the UniServ Director shall have access to any school, provided that they shall notify the principal’s office upon their entrance to any school. If an emergency necessitates the interruption of class schedules, prior arrangements shall be made with the principal.” (III-E-3)
  • “The Association President shall be furnished with copies of all publications, directives or memoranda containing official District interpretations of this Agreement.” (III-B-1)… The privilege apparently only goes one way, as there is no provision for sharing the union’s documents with the Board.

Don’t forget to check out this brief 2010 backgrounder from my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explaining some of the merits of the open negotiations policy. Meanwhile, the group Americans for Prosperity-Colorado has created the website “Make District 11 Transparent” to collect petition signatures in support of the local school board’s taxpayer-friendly cause.