A leaked copy of the agreement between the Clark County School District and its support staff shows changes in the contract were negotiated between the two sides, not awarded through an arbitrator.
It’s a key distinction, the local union that’s trying to oust the Education Support Employee Association said, because it shows how the approximately 12,000 support employees would benefit from new representation with more transparency.
“They were going out of their way to hide this information,” said Grant Davis, vice-president of the local Teamsters union trying to replace the ESEA. “That’s the bigger issue.”
The Teamsters were given the document by an employee within the school district, Davis said.
It’s another salvo in a bitter battle for control of the employee association. The ESEA and Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board are awaiting a state Supreme Court decision to see whether that board will be able to move forward on a decision to allow the Teamsters local to take over representing the support employees.
The Supreme Court decision, expected sometime in the spring, will end a 15-year battle between the two unions.
Until a ruling comes down, the two sides are using contract negotiations and other tactics against each other in an effort to sway members.
“Our purpose is to find the best way forward for our members,” said Guillermo Vazquez, the ESEA executive director. “They can call it whatever they want, we’re calling it a victory.”
The union has posted excerpts and held meetings explaining the agreement, Vazquez said, but didn’t want to distribute a contract until it was finished, which should happen by the end of the week, he said.
The 73-page document includes a cover sheet and a copy of the contract, showing the changes and agreed upon terms, which includes a pay raise, a two-step increase on the pay scale and a $50 monthly increase to health care premiums by the district.
Davis said the ESEA has kept the agreement secret for the last two months. He added that the new contract — which expires June 30, 2017 — was reached by an arbitrator making an award after negotiations stalled when the contract expired in 2015.
Instead, the cover sheet shows the agreement was reached through negotiations, although an arbitrator was involved during the process.
A hearing was held with arbitrator Catherine Harris. During that hearing, both sides decided they could reach a conclusion through negotiation instead of an arbitrator’s award.
“They’ve gone out of their way to deceive their membership,” Davis said.
Until 2003, the relations board allowed a simple majority vote, board commissioner Bruce Snyder said. In 2003, the rule was changed so that the election could count only if one party got a majority of all votes that could have been cast.
The relations board announced its intention to reverse the rule before the most recent vote. Under the simple majority rule, the Teamsters union was poised to take over.
But ESEA lawyers intervened, bringing the issue to the District Court, which ruled with the ESEA. The decision was then appealed.