Independence NEA teachers close the deal for bargaining rights

Independence NEA teachers close the deal for bargaining rights


Independence NEA teachers celebrate their new role as the exclusive representative for educators in the Independence School District. Elected by a margin of two to one as the representative for teachers at the bargaining table in the Independence School District, INEA soundly defeated MSTA, another teacher group that placed its name on the ballot hoping to become the exclusive representative for teachers.

“MSTA has fought against teachers having collective bargaining rights for years,” says Chris Guinther, president of the Missouri National Education Association. “Since the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision last spring, MSTA has been doing everything it can to undermine teachers’ rights to choose who will represent them at the bargaining table. They even worked to pass a bill in the legislature that would discriminate against teachers by denying them their constitutional right to elect who will represent them at the bargaining table.”

Guinther is referring to a May 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision, upholding teachers’ rights to bargain collectively. The court upheld Article 1, section 29 of the Missouri Constitution, which reads in part that, "employees have the right to bargain through representatives of their own choosing.”

“Five years ago, NEA members in Independence were stripped of their long standing status as the representative groups in local bargaining,” said Christopher Eager, president of INEA. “With the assistance of Missouri NEA, we filed the lawsuit to reestablish our representation rights as well as our right to enter a binding agreement with the school district. It has been a long struggle, but yesterday’s election closed the deal.”

INEA and MSTA were forced to share representation for the past five years. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, the school board could decide if it would negotiate with teachers and who would be allowed to represent teachers at the table. The Supreme Court decision changed things by placing the decision about teacher representation in the hands of teachers.

“As the exclusive bargaining representative, INEA has the responsibility to represent all teachers, including non-members,” Eager says. “INEA takes seriously this vote of confidence from the teachers as we work to negotiate in good faith with the board, to represent all teachers in Independence, and to reach binding agreements for salary and working conditions.”
Independence Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Hinson congratulated the INEA and complimented the teacher organizations on the election process.

“Shared decision making is a strong component in any organization and to elect a representative is a true reflection of our democracy,” Hinson writes in an e-mail to district employees.
The 34,000-member MNEA represents teachers, education support professionals, college faculty, 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 NEA.
May 21, 2008

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DeeAnn Aull

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