April 23 SREA Newsletter

Are you happy with the STATUS QUO?

Now that SRPE is campaigning to defend itself in a representation election, it’s important to look at the information being shared and consider the FACTS and not buy into the FEAR!

SRPE says: If Santa Rosa EA wins bargaining rights, everything fought for and won in your contract goes away.

FACT: It is well established in Florida’s collective bargaining law that when a new employee organization takes over the bargaining rights, everything pertaining to salaries, benefits, and working conditions remains in place unless and until it is changed in bargaining. If the District were to skip the bargaining process and make unilateral changes, it would be a violation of 447.309 of Florida Statutes which would result in an unfair labor practice charge against the District (447.501).

SRPE says: If the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) finds that a sufficient number of rival cards are invalid, the petition for a representation election will be dismissed.

FACT: Under Florida’s collective bargaining law, Showing of Interest cards to petition for a representation election were exempt from disclosure unless a party claimed that cards were obtained by collusion, coercion, intimidation, or misrepresentation. But NAGE v. State of Florida 1994 clarified that simply making such claims is not sufficient to force the disclosure of cards. In short, the federal district declared that 447.307 violated union members’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. So although SRPE is trying to make this objection in an attempt to stop an election, the inconvenient truth of this decades-old court case stands in its way.

SPRE says: Santa Rosa EA will be controlled by the state affiliate and you will lose local control.

FACT: Every local association affiliated with FEA is run by elected member-leaders who make all decisions regarding the direction of the organization. Once the election is over and Santa Rosa EA becomes the new bargaining agent, nominations for elected offices will take place and dues paying members will be able to be nominated and run for office.

So why is SRPE trying to generate FEAR? Because SRPE wants to keep the Status Quo.

What does it say about an organization that wants to keep the Status Quo when it means:

  • Santa Rosa employee salaries continue to lag behind in the state and in the region
  • SRPE is still at the bargaining table for the 2016-17 school year while every local in the region has been done for months and did not have to resort to the impasse procedure
  • SRPE still has not been unsuccessful in securing Annual Contract teacher protections, as Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay, and 30+ others have done already
  • Membership has decreased to an all-time low of 29% overall in the past ten years
  • Almost no visibility in the school community – outside of reporting about stalled bargaining
  • No legislative lobbying program
  • No attempts to build bridges with the School Board

Enough is enough. The STATUS QUO is no longer acceptable!

It’s time for a different kind of union… one that:

  • Cares about what members think and seeks their input
  • Provides regular and up to date communications to members
  • Engages elected leaders at the local and state levels to support public education and its employees
  • Provides meaningful professional development to members
  • Has a robust, nationwide member benefits program
  • Has professional negotiators with extensive experience and knowledge to get the job done
  • Employs attorneys who specialize in education and labor law

As much as SRPE doesn’t want it, an election is coming – and so is your chance.

It’s time for a CHANGE – not more of the same!

State News

“Schools of hope” or “schools of nope”?
HB 5105, the House’s plan to hand over low-performing schools to out-of-state charter companies who have been reported to have no interest in taking over those schools in Florida. On Tuesday in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education, Sen. David Simmons of Longwood filed an amendment onto SB 1552, his best and brightest bonus legislation that was on agenda and offered an alternative to HB 5105. The amendment would increase the turnaround options for schools that are receiving a school grade of “D” or “F” to include: implementing an extended school day with at least one hour of additional learning time, wraparound services for students and families such as health services, after-school programs, drug-prevention programs, college and career readiness, food and clothing banks, or allowing a principal autonomy program school.

FEA is working to ensure there is a dedicated funding stream for the wraparound services. Otherwise, the approach by Simmons is a much needed improvement to help address the issue of low-performing schools and a much welcomed alternative to the House’s plan of simply washing their hands of low-performing schools by handing them over to charter corporations. The amendment passed and SB 1552 now has two additional stops before its ready for a floor vote. We still have a long way to go in this fight, remembering that HB 5105 is a conference bill that will likely be negotiated in backrooms by leadership as they through budget conference process.

National News

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Get Students Reading – 10 Tips for School Library Month
Celebrate School Library Month throughout April by encouraging newcomers to the library and introducing them to the love of reading.