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A Brief History Of Opposition To Public-Sector Unionism
There is nothing new about opposition to public-sector unionism. It has been a feature of American life for over one hundred years. But in some ways, the current wave of anti-unionism is a departure. Three different eras of opposition to public-sector unionism, including the current one, have been distinguished by distinct core arguments against collective bargaining for public employees. Read more.
What is Collective Bargaining?
For years, not many people talked about collective bargaining. But that changed when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Republican politicians in a dozen other states decided to eliminate the right to bargain collectively from public employees. Learn more
Study: U.S. Has Weakest Labor Protections Among Rich Nations.
A new international comparison makes it clear just how weak protections are for working people in the United States. Learn more about this trend.
Clear and Concise Language
by Don Gilbertson, Field Representative
There is an expression used when crafting or negotiating contract language. The term clear and concise language is often used and is always the goal dealing with contract language at the negotiating table. It can be dangerous to use contract language that is susceptible to multiple interpretations, especially if the language lies dormant in your Labor Agreement for a number of years. Both management and the union might raise questions concerning the intent of that dusty old clause in the Agreement. Who put this in the contract? Has it ever been applied? Do the parties agree on how the language is interpreted and applied? In order to avoid questions about meanings or application, the parties should craft the language so that it is clear and unambiguous. The application of the clause should be obvious to the reader.
Recently I had experience with one of these dusty old clauses which had been in the Labor Agreement for six years.
The clause itself read:
If a health insurance eligible employee resigns or retires with at least 20 years of service and is at least 60 years of age or meets the rule of 90 (age plus years of experience) and prior to age 65 the District shall contribute $3500 per year for those retirees who had single coverage at the time of retirement, or $7500 per year for those retirees who had family coverage at the time of retirement, to a health savings account or similar plan. Contributions will cease when the employee attains the age of 65.
Now for the rest of the story:
We will call the employee Georgina. Georgina was a 20-year plus employee of the district and is now age 62. For most of her career, Georgina carried single insurance through the district. A few months prior to her retirement, she added her husband to her district plan so she had family coverage. Georgina then retired from the school district thinking that she was eligible for the full $7500 per year contribution to her health care savings account.
The district refused to pay the $7500 into her health care savings account, and instead contributed only $3500. A series of conversations ensued. The district offered a variety of explanations in the grievance process.
***That is not how we do it with the teachers.
***We had a “gentleman’s agreement” that the employee had to have family insurance for one full insurance year to be eligible.
The district was reminded in the grievance process that the language in question had appeared unchanged for three full contract cycles. The district settled the grievance!
As the author of the language in the first place, you might ask me if I put the phrase at the time of retirement in on purpose. The answer is a resounding yes!! Although there was discussion at the negotiating table about that exact phrase, the district did not ask that it be changed and eventually accepted the proposal. Therefore the district knew what it was getting into - or at least it should have known. Did Georgina take advantage of the system? Judge for yourself, she was on the negotiating committee when the language was first added to the Agreement.
Know Your Rights!
If you are questioned in any way about your conduct or work activities, you need to be aware of your rights to representation and know the answers you give may be used against you. download pdf
MN Para News & Updates
**Minnesota’s Rubric – Para Portfolios: The MN Dept. of Ed. (DOE) has developed Minnesota’s Rubric for the Evaluation of Para Portfolios, a system of evaluating portfolios is through a set of rubrics, which outlines the MN Core Competencies. This process allows an effective and efficient process for districts to assist the portfolio evaluation team to ensure that paras have the required knowledge and skills. Download the Rubric in pdf format.
**Consortium Members Needed: The MN Para Consortium has several vacant positions brought about by terms ending including: Parent (Spec. Ed.), Parent (Title), Principal, Spec. Ed. Para and Staff Development Coord. For more information about the open positions, you can check out the Consortium’s website or contact MSEA Field Rep Bob Schrank (cell phone: 651.260.3781).
**Download a pdf copy of the final MN Paraprofessional Requirements for meeting NCLB. Local Requirements can also be found at http://ici2.umn.edu/para/. The House Education and the Workforce Committee majority staff released two updated guides to "Frequently Asked Questions" regarding NCLB and IDEA. Update your library with these handy reference guides.
**The MN Dept. of Education has drafted Local Assessment Definitions to be used in determining if paras meet NCLB standards that have been adopted. Remember, the local assessment is different than the standards for the voluntary credential being developed under MN statute.
**Para eFolio: This online resource will provide a tool for paras to track completion of all core competencies, as well as an online resume. Click here to build a Para eFolio.
**Minnesota will use the ETS Para Pro Test as the assessment tool referenced in the Para Credential and Local Assessment. Information about this test can be found on the Consortium website.