10 things Richmond school employees need to know about collective bargaining

10 things Richmond school employees need to know about collective bargaining

Richmond school employees will soon face a difficult choice.

On April 15th and 16th, a union will ask to come between them, their students, and their school.

If school employees vote yes, it allows the union to have a monopoly on representing them, whether they want it or not. School employees will no longer be able to work with their school on wages, benefits, and many other issues – it will have to go through the union. Even if a school employee has an issue at school, the union will most likely demand to lead conversations between them and their administrator.

Simply not voting isn’t enough – if school employees do not want the union, they will need to vote no.

The election will be held at:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School
1000 Mosby St.
Richmond, VA 23223
April 15 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm
April 16 from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
You will need to bring government or Richmond Public School ID to vote.

Here are ten things that Richmond school employees need to consider before voting to allow a union to have a monopoly over their contract and jobs:

1. Union promises are not a promise, they are simply what the union will negotiate over. Union organizers can promise the moon, but they still need to negotiate with the school. The union cannot make any guarantees over what will be in a contract.

2. School employees can be trapped into having money taken from their paycheck and given to a union, even by just saying “yes” on a phone call. Unions can lock school employees into paying dues with only a short window of time every year to opt out. If they miss that window, they have to wait until the window comes around again the next year. There are examples from around the country of teacher unions that did not allow school employees to stop paying unions despite repeated requests. School employees can unwittingly agree to these terms by just saying “yes” on a phone call which will allow the union to start taking money out of their paycheck.

3. Dues could be around $700 a year. If school employees agree to pay dues, they could be trapped into paying the union around $700 a year.

4. Unions can contact school employees at home, on their cell phones and personal email. Unions are entitled to school employee home addresses, home and mobile phone numbers, as well as personal email addresses. They can – and will repeatedly – contact school employees asking them to sign a union card and vote for them. Unfortunately, there is no do not call list to get the union to stop contacting you.

5. There will be less funding. Collective bargaining costs money. The process is expensive, and the school district will need to pay for lawyers and human resource personnel just to administer the process. This is money that could and should go to school employees for raises, better benefits, and other needs.

6. It would allow unions to come between school employees and schools. Collective bargaining agreements are one-size-fits-all contracts that allow unions to dictate terms for all employees that the contract covers. This includes employees who are not members of the union and do not want to be under a union contract.

7. Unions are very engaged in partisan politics. Unions (both private and government) spent $1.8 billion on politics during the 2020 election. Much of the spending may not represent the values of Richmond or its employees.

8. School employees will be voting to bring in the very partisan National Education Association, an organization that advocates for and supports issues that have nothing to do with education and which many Richmond school employees may disagree with.

9. Collective bargaining is an adversarial process. By its nature, the process of collective bargaining is combative. It is a process where each side tries to extract as much as it can from the other. By injecting this adversarial process between employees and their school, collective bargaining could erode the teamwork and good will between Richmond school employees and their schools.

10. School employees could be forced to sit though union sales pitches. School employees could be forced to attend mandatory union orientations whether they want to or not just to start working at a Richmond school. Unions will be able not just to meet with school employees during the school day (and have the ability to go to their homes) but also require new employees to sit through a union sales pitch during employee orientation.

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