FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 30, 2023
Contact: Neil Bhaerman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-266-4899
KIPP Columbus Educators File Unfair Labor Practice Charge While Fighting for a Fair First Contract
After more than a year since filing for a union election, educators demand time for lesson planning and an end to short staffing and large class sizes.
COLUMBUS — Educators at KIPP Columbus filed an unfair labor practice charge this week with the National Labor Relations Board due to management’s decision to unilaterally end a coverage stipend that was in place to cover teachers’ lesson planning times. This action was the latest union-busting tactic in a pattern of intimidation and retaliation that began when educators initially filed for their union election on November 15, 2022. The NLRB has previously found merit in three other unfair labor practice charges filed by educators.
150 teachers, intervention specialists, social workers, teacher fellows, and paraprofessionals who work at the four schools on the KIPP Columbus campus voted with a strong majority to form their union (KIPP Columbus ACTS) on May 5, 2023. Ongoing staffing shortages, large class sizes, high turnover and lack of respect by management prompted their decision to form their union.
“For six months, we have been working in good faith to settle a fair first union contract with management after voting for our union in May 2023. We have faced ongoing short staffing, increased workloads, and increased class sizes, which has led to major safety concerns for many of us. On top of this, Regional Leadership decided to revoke a coverage stipend we received to compensate us for the loss of time to plan our lessons during school hours. This is a slap in the face to teachers who are working beyond their capacity to teach and nurture our kids,” said Andrew Mensah, High School Teacher and Bargaining Committee member.
Removal of this stipend is a violation of labor law because management may not make unilateral changes to working conditions while workers are negotiating a first union contract. Additionally, this change was an illegal act of retaliation.
“Though we have made some progress at the bargaining table, management’s decision to revoke our planning coverage stipend feels like more of the same delay and intimidation tactics that make the process to form our union prolonged and stressful,” said Katie Manahan, High School Intervention Specialist and Bargaining Committee member, “It is time management truly respects the voices of frontline educators and staff and works with us to settle a fair first contract that treats educators with respect so we can fully give our students the attention and support they deserve.”
In October, 84% of KIPP educators signed and delivered a petition calling on management to reinstate the coverage stipend, which was revoked before the start of the school year. This week’s ULP charge was filed due to management’s refusal to reinstate the stipend. After educators filed for union recognition in November 2022, KIPP Columbus management delayed the vote for almost six months by filing a frivolous legal challenge and then used that delay to bring in out-of-state consultants and force employees to attend anti-union meetings. The consultants hired by KIPP failed to follow basic reporting requirements that are in place to ensure workers are not being illegally intimidated.
“We know our school – and students – are at their best when teachers and Regional Leadership work together to create a healthy work environment. This starts with mutual respect and the ability of educators to have a voice in finding solutions to attract and retain the high-level instructors that keep our school running and our students thriving,” said De Fulton, Elementary Teacher and Bargaining Committee member.
The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is a state federation of 60 local unions representing members who are active and retired public school teachers and staff, charter school teachers and staff, higher education faculty and staff, social workers, library workers, and public employees. OFT works to advance quality public education, intellectual freedom, and a voice in the workplace for Ohio’s education & public service professionals. OFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers.