LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Citing a strong objection to the approach Jefferson County Public Schools has taken to negotiate employee wages over the past few months, four major unions who represent more than 13,000 employees sent a letter to the school board Monday pleading with members to "provide oversight and direction."

In a letter sent to all seven Jefferson a County Board of Education members on Monday, the leadership of the four unions -- Jefferson County Teachers Association, Teamsters Local 783, AFSCME Council 962 and SEIU -- have joined together as one labor coalition on this issue, which has continued to gain traction and negativity as the days go on without an answer on employee wages.

The unions specially call out Superintendent Donna Hargens and Tom Hudson, chief economic officer who is doing most of the district's negotiations.

"Despite our clear and repeated communications prior to negotiation that district bargaining proposals that do not recognize experience steps that have been earned by employees in accordance with state statutes would generate intense counterproductive reactions by our members and would be taken as an affront to the dedicated word of our collective memberships, Mr. Hudson has repeatedly proposed illegal offers that have not recognized experience steps," the letter reads.

It goes on to say that Hudson has "abandoned the no step approach and offered each of us a proposal that it at least legal because steps are recognized."

"We have to ask, other than making every JCPS employee feel disrespected and not valued,what has been gained by offered these divisive proposals?"

The labor unions also tell the board they believe the district is misinforming board members about the cost of the step increases -- which cost about $11.4 million. They also ask the board to direct the district's negotiating team to utilize the $11.4 million that was approved for salary steps so that employees can get their raises.

"We urge the school board to provide oversight and direction to the board's negotiating team," the letter states. "In order to provide appropriate oversight and direction, board members have both a right and responsibility to see the proposals from both the district's negotiation team and those from employees representatives."

The leaders of the four unions - Brent McKim, John Stovall, Robert Johnson and Robert Smith signed the letter Monday.

JCPS could not be reached for immediate comment on Tuesday.

The text of the letter appears below. 


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