Brookline School Committee Refuses To Bargain With Educators
Brookline Educators Union files unfair labor charges
Following the Brookline School Committee’s refusal to negotiate in the presence of silent representatives, the Brookline Educators Union is filing charges with the state Department of Labor Relations.
The BEU’s bargaining team – which represents teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators – was prepared on Monday, Feb. 25, to discuss proposals for a successor three-year contract with the School Committee.
As has been the practice for many years, the BEU’s bargaining team is comprised of approximately 15 active negotiators. This year, the BEU informed the School Committee that silent representatives would also be at the bargaining sessions. The committee did not object to that idea when presented at an initial bargaining session, though the committee did oppose the BEU’s request for full open bargaining, allowing members of the public to witness negotiations.
The BEU is filing a charge with the DLR as it has the right to choose its bargaining team, and there are no prohibitions against silent representatives being included on the team. Members of the BEU will also be bringing the union’s concerns to the School Committee meeting on Thursday.
“The School Committee simply does not want to bargain with educators on their own terms. There is a pattern of committee members stalling and looking for any excuse to avoid addressing the BEU’s concerns about our students’ learning environments and our members’ work environments – which are one in the same,” said BEU President Jessica Wender-Shubow.
The BEU rejected the School Committee’s attempt to split up teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators into separate bargaining teams.
“I might be in one unit, but I am concerned about how all of the units are being treated,” said Christin Wheeler, a teacher at the Heath Elementary School. “My school is better when everybody’s perspective is considered.”
Wheeler was one of the thirty silent representatives who attended Monday’s bargaining session. The silent representatives do not speak during bargaining, but are able to participate in caucuses with the bargaining team. “Having more members listen and participate in the caucus will add important expertise to our discussions and allow us to settle a contract much faster,” said BEU Secretary Jody Curran. “Our last contract negotiation had a small team but stretched out over several years before it was finalized.”
“Allowing for greater input from members during the caucuses will help us craft the best proposals in a timely manner. We totally disagree with the School Committee’ assertion that having silent representatives will slow down the bargaining process or somehow be unwieldy,” said Eric Schiff, BHS Guidance Counselor and chair of the BEU’s bargaining team.
Schiff added, “The BEU is deeply disappointed that bargaining has not had a smooth start. We came prepared and ready to work on the important issues facing our schools.”