Teachers union to protest outside special-called JCPS meeting to - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Teachers union to protest outside special-called JCPS meeting today

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JCPS teachers, staff and community members protest outside the May 14 school board meeting (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) JCPS teachers, staff and community members protest outside the May 14 school board meeting (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
JCTA posted this notice to its Facebook page on Tuesday. JCTA posted this notice to its Facebook page on Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education is holding a special-called meeting to "discuss contract negotiation strategies"  Tuesday and its biggest union is calling upon teachers, employees and community members to protest before the meeting.

According to a post on the Jefferson County Teachers Association's Facebook page for "all JCPS employees and allies," the union is asking people to "be there to remind the school board and superintendent to follow their own board policy and the law and provide us the steps that we've earned."

"The (school board) is holding a special board meeting today at 4 p.m. to discuss salary negotiations for which they have brought in an outside union-busting attorney," the post reads. It asks people to show up at 3:30 p.m. at the Van Hoose Education Center, 3332 Newburg Road.

As WDRB News reported Monday, JCPS has enlisted the help of a local labor attorney known for helping employers take on unions to assist the district as it begins negotiations with at least two of its unions over wages.

James U. Smith has been brought on for negotiations with the Teamsters Local 783 and the Jefferson County Association of Educational Support Personnel. Together, the two unions represent more than 5,000 district employees.

JCPS typically negotiates changes in wages with its unions every two years, usually in the summer months. The talks have been fairly routine in past years and have not involved outside attorneys.

Smith was asked to help with negotiations by Middleton Reutlinger, one of two law firms the district has contracted with handle its legal services, according to Allison Martin, a JCPS spokeswoman.

However, Smith has not been involved in wage negotiations with JCTA -- at least not yet, according to JCTA President Brent McKim.

The meeting starts at 4 p.m. and portions of it will take place in closed session, according to the notice signed by Diane Porter, vice-chairwoman of the school board.

McKim says the union will be filing a lawsuit this week against JCPS, alleging Superintendent Donna Hargens violated their agreement to provide promised pay increases for some teachers and other employees.

In an email sent to school board members Tuesday, JCTA says "state law and JCPS school board policy are clear."

"Thousands of JCPS teachers have earned a year of experience, but Superintendent Hargens, Chief Business Officer Hudson, and Chief Financial Officer Hardin are choosing to violate state law, school board policy, and our labor agreement by not crediting these teachers with the year of experience they have earned through their dedicated service during the 2015-2016 school year," the email states.

"As the representative of these teachers, we ask the school board to insist that the district administration follow the law and the school board’s own policy by crediting teachers with the experience steps they have earned."

Martin has said the situation of teachers not receiving their pay increases in early July has happened several times in the past, most recently in 2013. That year, she said, the increases were paid retroactively once the school board approved the salary schedules at its meeting in mid-July.

Tuesday's planned protest comes two months after more than 1,000 teachers, students and parents rallied outside JCPS headquarters before the school board's May 14 meeting.

It also comes less than a month after the school board released its annual evaluation of Hargens, in which it asked her to rebuild trust and increase morale among district employees.

The May 14 rally – and the overflow crowd at the school board meeting later that night -- marked the culmination of weeks of anxiety over the district’s flirtation with relaxing student discipline policies and freezing salaries for most employees, including teachers.

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Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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