Monday, July 9, 2007

A battle is brewing.....

As Michael Buffer might say "Let's get ready to RUMMMMMMMBBBLLLLEEEEEE".

Recently, Las Vegas Teamsters Local 14 held a news conference stating that they are moving towards a showdown with the local Clark County Education Association (CCEA)in an effort to represent Clark County teachers. Local teachers who support the move recently held a 2 day rally and encouraged teachers to resign from CCEA. During this time they also encouraged teachers to sign pledge cards. The Teamsters got their start at and have been trying to gain support for some time.

In the mean time, CCEA countered with a rally of their own in support of the current association. CCEA asserts that the teamsters are unfamiliar with the needs of educators and lack the experience necessary to meet the demands that come with the representation of a public service group.

It is estimated that 18,000 teachers serve the needs of Clark County, Nevada. In order for Local 14 to force a vote on representation some 9,000 local teachers would need to sign pledge cards, essentially saying that they want a vote on representation.

I'm sure the Teamsters are in for a battle. Rarely, will you find a more apathetic group than the teachers of Clark County. CCEA claims to represent 13,300 local teachers but thousands fewer than that voted in the last election for association president. Even if the Teamsters do earn the right to have an election to see who will represent them in negotiations for future contracts, 9,000 teachers would need to vote in favor of the new representation. No doubt, this is a large burden to overcome.

Regardless of who represent the teachers of Clark County in the future, teachers need to demand more than what the state legislature has been providing in salary increases. Power bills alone have risen much more than the 2% per year teachers have been averaging since 1999. It's not just Clark County that must do better, but the state of Nevada must find a way to attract and retain qualified teachers.

The problem really is the lack of concern the average teacher seems to care about the process of negotiations and making sure that somebody is standing loud and tall to support teachers interests. Until more teachers get off their cans and demand less hostile work environments and better pay, they are getting exactly what they deserve. The next few months are vital for Clark County School District teachers. Regardless of whether you side with the Teamsters local 14 or with the current Clark County Education Association it is important that each teacher stands up and is heard. If not, the state of Nevada and CCSD will continue giving teachers exactly what they deserve. Which is to say they will continue the status quo.

It should be quite a battle here in the battle born state, at least that's how I see it.


Osbeck said...

What are the Teamsters offering that CCEA has not offered in the past? I know about the raise issue, but the benefits package is among the best.
And is it really the unions problem to stop the flood of staff leaving the district? Is this not a community issue that must be addressed by more teacher next door grants, and community wide perks?
Yes,an increase in wages will help but the fact still is that housing is not within a teacher's salary range in LasVegas and the utility companies need have turn-on programs for new teachers. The sign-on bonus helps with some of this but it is not available to the new teachers until October.
As a city built upon service, it does not have compassion for those who come to service the local population in an everyday capacity.

vegasviaiowa said...

Well, many folks would offer that CCEA has not done enough in the past. CCEA big selling point is "hey, next time you are on your prep period, thank us". Interestingly according to research, teachers in CCSD have had preps now for around 30 years.

The fact that CCEA appears to be in bed with the district is what disturbs me the most. Just accepting whatever the district is willing to give, is not representation. Who knows what the Teamsters will offer. The benefits won't change because that is still all negotiated. I've been in 3 school districts and the benefits are no better here than the other rural areas I've been. Admittedly, the salaries here are more than where I've been but as I mentioned in my blog, utilities have went up much more each year than the 2% average increase in salaries teachers have received since I've been in the district.

In my mind, let us hear what the Teamsters have to offer so at the very least CCEA knows that the members they serve are unsatisfied. But sadly, I doubt that the teamsters will get the 9000 teachers necessary to sign the pledge cards.