When we last discussed the Douglas County Board of Education--far and away the most politically activist school board in the state and the center of a major controversy over the funding of religious school tuition with tax dollars--we noted with amusement that the members of this board, which has made so much of the "political meddling" of the union representing over 70% of Douglas County teachers, were endorsing Mitt Romney for President.
Over the last couple of weeks, the Douglas County school board has moved into the next phase of their politically activist agenda. After miring themselves in a lawsuit over religious school vouchers, they're now all about breaking the Douglas County Federation of Teachers.
Here's a letter forwarded to us today that was sent to Douglas County teachers represented by DCFT, summing up the state of contract negotiations:
For 40 years the Douglas County Federation has negotiated in good faith with the Douglas County School District. In fact, we were proud to ask the District to join us in open negotiations for the first time ever. Unfortunately, the new leadership of the District has made it clear they no longer have any intention of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the organization to which more than 70 percent of its teachers belong.
We are saddened and disappointed with the actions and decisions of the current Douglas County School Board and District Administration; formally our district had always been a place of collaboration. Prior to the change in leadership, the DCF and District gained national recognition for their collaboration. Working together with the District we created a school system so renown that many families moved to our community because of our schools...
We strongly believe our teachers must have a CBA. Therefore, we conceded issues we believe are important to ensure that a settlement would be reached. These concessions included:
‐ Agreement that the District will no longer deduct dues for Federation members
‐ Agreement that Federation officers will no longer be considered employees or Teachers on Special Assignment
‐ Agreement to work together to improve communication between the Federation and the District
Each represents a significant compromise for our organization, and each was offered under the belief that the District was negotiating in good faith to reach a CBA with its teachers. Unfortunately, each time we made progress in Negotiations the Douglas County School Board moved the goal posts. We made a request for an outside facilitator/mediator in February, a request which was denied. We made another request during the last Negotiations sessions; again we were met with refusal even though Federal Mediation would not cost the District any money. It is now clear from their public statements that the DCSD BoE has no desire to reach a CBA with teachers. [Pols emphasis]
It's important to recognize the major concessions that the DCFT made to the Douglas County school board: ending paycheck dues deduction? Ending district benefits for union liason employees? In the realm of collective bargaining, these really amount to giving away the "crown jewels"--concessions offered by the union just to keep the process going. For these concessions to not be good enough proves the intentions of the school board to end the role of the union in negotiating on behalf of teachers entirely, because there's not much left they can take away.
With all of this in mind, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers has appealed their case, asking for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene. Not surprisingly, the notoriously anti-union Denver Post weighed in today with an editorial (as opposed to an actual news story) saying that the state shouldn't do that, since "99 percent of Dougco teachers have indicated their willingness to return next fall...even without a union contract!"
Thanks, Dean Singleton, but 70% of them have one right now.
Folks, if Douglas County is going to proceed from religious school vouchers to the overt busting of their teacher's union, one ideological crusade to the next, should that be done in the light of day--or by running out the clock, and gumming it to death on a hostile editorial page?
If this effort prevails, most parents in Douglas County will never have that conversation.