NEWS RELEASE: Columbia Teachers File Lawsuit Over School District’s Bad Faith Negotiations

From the Missouri National Education Association
1810 E. Elm St., Jefferson City, MO 65101

For further information: 
Mark Jones
(573) 508-8528

April 23, 2019

Columbia Public Schools demonstrated bad faith by demanding contract provisions in violation of court order.


Columbia, Missouri – Today the Columbia Missouri National Education Association (CMNEA), the exclusive bargaining representative for Columbia public school teachers, filed a lawsuit in Boone County. The lawsuit alleges Columbia Public Schools (CPS) bargained in bad faith during recent contract negotiations in violation of teachers’ constitutional rights.

The school district is insisting that it will terminate CMNEA’s status as the chosen representative of the district’s teachers for collective bargaining unless the State Board of Mediation violates a court order by enforcing provisions of HB 1413. In March, a court barred the State Board of Mediation and the State of Missouri from enforcing any portion of HB 1413, ruling the law was likely unconstitutional.

Specifically, CPS insisted on inserting a provision voiding the contract with teachers if the State Board of Mediation had not certified the Association in an election by June 30, 2019, even though CPS negotiators admitted it would be impossible for the union to meet this condition due to the court-ordered injunction.

“As a teacher, I want to focus on what matters, our students,” said CMNEA president Kathy Steinhoff, a math teacher at Hickman High School. “Instead of working with teachers the district has chosen a path of confrontation and conflict. Teachers already face so many challenges in the classroom – it’s disappointing our district would choose to undermine our right to be represented by the organization of our choosing and act in bad faith during negotiations.”

The lawsuit requests the court to protect individual teachers’ and CMNEA’s collective bargaining rights under Article I, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution and bar the district from acting in bad-faith by demanding CMNEA agree to take action prohibited by court order.

“CPS is acting in an extreme and out-of-touch manner,” said Kristen Burkemper a Battle Elementary School librarian and CMNEA’s bargaining chair. “Teachers chose CMNEA as their bargaining representative in a 2012 election. The district’s bad faith bargaining and attempt to undo the choice of teachers will make it tougher to retain the confidence and trust of teachers who are already being recruited by high-quality school districts across the state.”

Other parties joining CMNEA in the lawsuit include CMNEA president Kathy Steinhoff, a Hickman High math teacher and the Missouri National Education Association.


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Background: HB 1413 was part of a slew of unpopular, anti-labor measures signed into law by the then-governor Eric Greitens only hours before he resigned. Greitens signed this assault on employee rights along with several other bills like prevailing wage decreases and a measure moving so-called “right-to-work” to the August ballot, where it was overwhelmingly defeated.

The 32,500-member MNEA represents teachers, education support professionals, retired teachers and students studying to be teachers in school districts and on college campuses throughout the state. It is the Missouri affiliate of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. 

Posted Date: 4/23/2019
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