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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, May 27, 2016 3 years ago

Teachers union, Volusia Schools trade charges in contract dispute

Union spokesman says teachers will not vote on latest offer.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

The teachers union and Volusia County Schools sent out press releases May 27 showing an increase in the discord between the two groups in their year-long struggle to reach agreement on a contract for 2015-2016 year. The teachers’ union president, Andrew Spar, charged the school district with acting unlawfully, and the school superintendent, Tom Russell, said Spar is denying teachers right to vote.

An impasse was declared on Feb. 18, and a magistrate made recommendations on the impasse issues after hearing arguments from both sides. At a hearing on May 18, the School Board made two offers to the Volusia Teachers Organization, with the expectation they would vote on them.

Spar notified the School Board and the superintendent on May 27 that the Volusia Teachers Organization will not vote on the contract offers. He said VTO will file an unfair labor practice charge against the School Board with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission. The basis of the charge is that the School Board, instead of resolving the impasse issues, submitted multiple options directly to the teachers and essentially continued the bargaining process. 

Spar also said he would file unfair labor practice because the district did not negotiate the teacher evaluation system in this year’s negotiations. The charge is expected to be filed later today or early next week.

Spar said the legal process could take months to resolve.

The school district response

After receiving the notification from Spar, Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for Volusia Schools, sent out a press release saying Spar is denying teachers the opportunity to vote on a 4% average raise in a two-year agreement or a 2% average raise in a one-year agreement.

Wait said any allegation the School Board’s action during impasse was unlawful is without merit and that it was Spar’s legal obligation to present the offers to teachers for a vote.

Russell said Spar is denying teachers the fundamental right to vote.

“Whether teachers approve or disapprove the agreement is secondary to allowing them the right to vote,” he said in the press release.

Spar responded later, saying that the School Board actions were unlawful.

 “We cannot in good conscience put an unlawful proposal before teachers for ratification,” Spar said.

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