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Regarding the 10/14 Board Meeting

10/18/2010
by

During the course of the most recent Board meeting, some Board members criticized the BCEA for its recent lawsuit.  It is understandable that Board members might be unhappy about the lawsuit, but their criticism of the BCEA was unjustified.

The Board and the BCEA have a Contract.  State law is very clear on how the Board must deal with monetary items in the Contract when the amount of funds appropriated by the County Commission is less than the amount negotiated.  The Board must renegotiate with the BCEA.

BCEA leaders recognized last winter that our schools would face budget challenges.  BCEA leaders repeatedly appeared at Board meetings and expressed the BCEA’s willingness and desire to work with the Board on those challenges.  But the Board disregarded the BCEA’s offers and the requirements of State law.  Instead, the Board chose on its own to cut funding for local step increases and the retirement incentive.

The BCEA still tried to work with the Board’s negotiators to resolve these issues, but there was one condition –  there first had to be a return to the status quo.  In other words, the local step increases and retirement incentive had to be restored so the BCEA and the Board could negotiate from the same place they would have been if the Board had done the right thing last spring.   When it became apparent that the Board was not going to do that, the BCEA was left with no real choice.

All the BCEA has asked for is a return to the status quo and an order telling the Board to do what state law already requires it to do.   Contrary to the suggestion of one Board member, the lawsuit is not frivolous.  It is a lawsuit that the Board could have avoided, but it became necessary in order to preserve and protect the right of Blount County teachers to negotiate a meaningful and enforceable Contract.

While Board members’ disappointment with the lawsuit is understandable, the BCEA is equally disappointed that the Board ignored the many opportunities it had to do things the right way and that Board members chose to use the platform of a public meeting to unjustly criticize BCEA leadership.

Daily Times Article

Tennessee Code Annotated-Education Professional Negotiations Act (excerpt below)

49-5-611. Scope of negotiations. —
(a) The board of education and the recognized professional employees’ organization shall negotiate in good faith the following conditions of employment:
(1) Salaries or wages;
(2) Grievance procedures;
(3) Insurance;
(4) Fringe benefits, but not to include pensions or retirement programs of the Tennessee consolidated retirement system;
(5) Working conditions;
(6) Leave;
(7) Student discipline procedures; and
(8) Payroll deductions.

(b) Nothing shall prohibit the parties from agreeing to discuss other terms and conditions of employment in service, but it is not bad faith, as set forth in this part, to refuse to negotiate on any other terms and conditions. Either party may file a complaint in a court of record of any demands to meet on other terms and conditions and have an order of the court requiring the other party to continue to meet in good faith on the required items of this section only. Any negotiations under this part shall be meetings within title 8, chapter 44.

[Acts 1978, ch. 570, § 11; T.C.A., § 49-5510.]

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