1) Sex, Drinks and Rock & Roll: The
Wisconsin Education Association Council's Collective Bargaining Agreement
With Its Own Employees. The top story in education
for the past few weeks has been the showdown in Wisconsin over collective
bargaining by teachers and other public employees. The Wisconsin Education
Association Council (WEAC) - the NEA affiliate in the state - is at the
forefront of the protests over the new law. Through its local affiliates,
WEAC represents some 84,000 active K-12 members.
But WEAC has employees of its own, and
these employees are unionized. They bargain collectively, with WEAC officers
and senior staff acting as management in these negotiations.
Their collective bargaining agreement contains some interesting
provisions, in light of recent events.
Article 3 states that every WEAC
employee has the right to "organize, join and support a labor organization
for the purpose of engaging in collective bargaining and other legal
concerted activities for mutual aid and protection." But it additionally
provides that employees "shall also have the right to refrain from such
Considering that there were a number of
school closures and sickouts during the rallies in Madison, it is
instructive to find a provision (Article 3.03) in the WEAC employee contract
that forbids employees from engaging in staff union business during normal
work hours. Not only that, but Article 16.07 requires that WEAC employees
"who are absent from work due to illness or disability for more than five
(5) consecutive days shall, at the option of the Employer, provide the
Employer with a
physician's statement prior to receiving further sick leave benefits."
Those provisions can be found in
teachers' contracts as well, but the WEAC contract also deals with some
unusual issues: sex, drinks and rock & roll.
Article 14.02 governs e-mail use, and
warns that employees "shall not email sexually explicit pictures and/or
videos that create a hostile work environment," while Article 14.04.
paragraph 4, adds that employees "shall not use the Employer's computer
network to intentionally view sexually explicit material unless authorized
by the Employer for an organizational purpose such as defending a member."
Article 6.08 restricts the amount of
booze WEAC will pay for...
Alcohol expenses will not be paid when there is no business
purpose. The following would not be a business purpose:
1. Two or more staff members getting together with no
2. Staff members and governance socializing with no
The Employer will not pay for alcohol consumed by an
employee on a work day from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
...while Article 14.04. paragraph 5
states that staffers "shall not download excessive amounts of music and
videos to the network or computer system that are for personal use."
Smoking inside a WEAC building is also
forbidden by contract.
While regulating worker intake of porn,
liquor, tobacco and iTunes, the union also wants to keep a lid on their
political views. A provision bans employees from using the WEAC e-mail
system to "support a candidate who is the opponent of any candidate
recommended by WEAC."
It isn't easy to fire a WEAC employee,
but during the probationary period he or she can be dismissed without cause.
Madison teachers contract, by way of comparison, requires the school
district to notify the union if a probationary teacher will not be renewed,
and at least gives the teacher the option of a private conference with the
There is only one thing that allows
immediate termination of a WEAC employee, and it is the same thing that
exists in teacher contracts - "failure to join and maintain union membership
or make the legally required payments."
The WEAC staff contract contains a
management rights clause, even though it is a common belief among unions
that "Management Rights clauses are unnecessary in collective bargaining
agreements with public school districts." (See the California Teachers
Association's Contract Reference Manual on
EIA's Declassified page.)
The cost of staff pensions and
post-retirement health care is a huge drain on WEAC's budget, as it is for
most other NEA state affiliates. Judging by its own practices, one wonders
if WEAC were not a union, and just another nonprofit organization, whether
its commitment to collective bargaining would be so full-throated.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from March 1-7:
NEA Turns to Its Charity Arm to Raise Money for Collective Bargaining
Rallies. True priorities.
Rules… Sometimes. Minnesota's primer on collective bargaining and
Pay for Performance? What's next? A Super Bowl ad?
Milwaukee Teachers Union Withdraws Viagra Suit. Teachers forced to stand
on their own (I know, I know, enough already).
Inevitable. Moleman in the light of day.
Quote of the Week.
Jesus needed an executive session with his disciples."
- Bruce Cole of the Colorado Springs Education Association, explaining why
the union doesn't want teacher contract negotiations conducted in public.
Colorado Springs Gazette)