I am a parent with children in the Jefferson County Public School system. I would like to begin with a quote that will contextualize what I have to say,
“The provisions contained within this Agreement shall be effective from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017 with the exception of Article 10, Compensation, which will be re opened for negotiations for the 2013-14 school year and each subsequent year unless bargained otherwise. Bargaining will occur during the month of June each year specified in the collective bargaining agreement.” [emphasis added] –JCAESP/AFSCME Local 4011 Contract with JCPS
Tomorrow, July 28th, will mark one year and one month to the day that I stood here addressing the JCPS School Board to negotiate fair raises for our teachers and our classified employees. It is sad that things have to go this route, seemingly every year now. It is sad that last year, JCPS never negotiated with their Classified Employees, in spite of the quote I just read you from their mutually agreed upon contract.
Let us not confuse JCPS’s passage of a wage raise schedule with actual negotiations. You see, negotiations between two parties require both parties to be present and have a voice in the process. Whereas, one party forcing the other party to accept something is not negotiating. As we stand here today, with only four days left in the month of July, we know that JCPS has not attempted to negotiate compensation and wages with Classified Workers, represented by JCAESP/AFSCME Local 4011.
For the second year in a row, the very contract agreement between employer and employee will be trampled on by the employer, by JCPS. This coming at a pivotal time, when our children are preparing to return to the classroom, when our children are paying attention to the news for any updates on what the school year may bring. And this they will see for a second year in a row: the seeming disdain of JCPS for the very 3,250 workers that our school children interact with everyday: classroom assistants, bookkeepers, clerks, and others. For the second year in a row, the decision by JCPS not to adhere to the language of the contract will send a clear message to our school children: 3,250 workers who make our system work are not important to JCPS.
As a parent with children in JCPS I implore you to take a look at Article 25 of the Contract between JCPS and the Classified Workers: see for yourself what it says. Be expedient in your search for answers: there are only four days left in June, and just a couple weeks before our children fill the hallways of their schools once again. As a parent, I will speak truth to my children: the very 3,250 workers who JCPS tramples on annually – these workers matter. The families of these workers matter. The livelihood of these workers matter. My children, whose education, in part, depends on these workers, matter. And because they matter, we will never be silent when the rights of classified workers are violated. We will not be silent as 3,250 workers are treated as if they are unimportant. We will refuse to be silent as another year passes while JCPS seemingly ignores the contract they agreed to with the Classified Employees.
Bonifacio Aleman, BSSW