California Educator

April/May 2023

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Page 37 of 61

ENFORCING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS AT SCHOOLS AND OTHER WORKSITES By Jesús Quiñonez Contract Enforcement Round-Up T H E P R O C E S S O F collective bargaining means that you and your colleagues have a collective say in the employment conditions of school employees. That could mean securing fair salary increases, better access to health care, workplace safety enhance- ments, additional paid leave rights and more reasonable and predictable hours. It could also mean lower class sizes and fair assignment procedures that protect educators from arbitrary actions by administrators. Once a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is reached, CTA local leaders and staff — including the Legal Department — work with employees to make sure that the rights and obligations spelled out in the agreement are honored. In fact, many of our local agreements contain "final and binding" arbitration provisions that guarantee a fair and neutral process for the resolution of disputes over contract provisions that cannot be settled by management and the union. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution under which a neutral third party, called an arbitrator, resolves the dispute by rendering a decision. "Final and binding" means that management and the union are legally bound by the arbitrator 's decision, which can be enforced by a court, if necessary. By this agreed-upon process, collective bargaining gives workers a say in employment terms and security in know- ing that procedures are in place for handling and solving work related grievances. Indeed, member dues are utilized to cover the expenses of negotiating contracts, improving and enforcing member rights under the CBA (and under state and federal laws), and resolving contract disputes. Two examples of recent contract enforcement victories are: "Collective bargaining gives workers a say in employment terms and security in knowing that procedures are in place for handling and solving work related grievances." Sanger Vacancy Dispute On Feb. 18, 2023, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Sanger Unified Teachers Association in a case where a currently employed teacher was denied her application to transfer to a vacant Transitional Kindergarten (TK) posi- tion. The aggrieved teacher was a 30-year employee with two master 's degrees who had most recently served as a teacher on special assignment, providing reading intervention to elementary school children. Instead, the dis- trict gave the position to an external candidate who was a student teacher with no experience as a fully credentialed teacher. The contract language said that when fill- ing vacancies, qualified internal candidates must be given "first consideration" prior to employing an external candidate, and that external candidates should only be chosen if their qualifications were "clearly superior." The district argued that they gave first consider- ation to internal candidates by simply giving every internal candidate an interview. They also relied heavily on the rankings of members 36 Advocacy Legal Beat

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