Posted on

IEERB hears case involving 6 counts of unfair labor practices at N. Harrison

With results of an August fact-finding effort and a breach of contract suit still pending in Harrison Circuit Court, the ongoing battle between the North Harrison Community School Corp. and its Classroom Teachers Association (NHCTA) continued this week with a two-day Unfair Labor Practice hearing.
Originally, nine counts of unfair practice were brought before the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, but both sides agreed to three of those counts being dropped. Also, one paragraph of a fourth count was eliminated from the record.
North Harrison teachers are now in their fourth year without a contract. In accordance with state law, the school board has continued to pay them the same salaries agreed to under the last contract.
The complaints filed by the NHCTA largely circle around allegations of the corporation’s failure to bargain in good faith, refusal to bargain, failure to bargain, that the corporation committed a violation of the Collective Bargaining Law, the reduction in force (RIF) move that resulted in eight teachers being laid off in 2005, and an incident of bypass by Bob Cambridge, legal counsel for the Board of School Trustees of NHCSC. The timeline for the complaints span mostly between 2004 and 2005.
During 5-1/2 hours of testimony Monday, Greg Rupp, president of the NHCTA and a teacher at North Harrison Elementary, among other things claimed Cambridge insulted teachers and bargaining team members during negotiations, including calling the bargaining team ‘inept,’ and that on multiple occasions former North Harrison Supt. Monty Schneider refused to meet with Rupp to negotiate the possibility of changes in health insurance carriers.
In an apparent disagreement on definition, during testimony yesterday, Schneider said he didn’t meet with Rupp because no formal request for a bargaining meeting had taken place.
Others who testified Monday included Laura Loudon McDonald and Jason Jones, two of the teachers who were laid off due to the RIFs, third-grade teacher and NHCTA secretary-treasurer Carol Daoud, sixth-grade teacher Richard Lee and seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Ron Snyder, all who serve on the bargaining team.
The bargaining team members who testified gave similar accounts of a February 2005 meeting in which they addressed a third draft of a potential contract. Verbiage in two earlier drafts was changed to satisfy criticisms made by Cambridge; however, when the bargaining team believed they were ready to proceed with a dispersal of funds to teachers’ accounts, Cambridge allegedly produced an entirely new document which bore no resemblance to the document that both parties had worked on in two earlier bargaining sessions.
The NHCTA bargaining team declared impasse and voiced its intent to file for IEERB mediation, to which Cambridge allegedly yelled, ‘I don’t have to go to mediation on this; it’s only one item. You have a status quo contract. The board will not participate in mediation.’
As the NHCTA team rose to leave the session, they were called back by Cambridge, who asked Schneider to give Rupp a seniority list so as to prepare for RIFs.
According to testimony yesterday by both Schneider and Carol Mooney, the ISTA UniServ director and spokesperson for the NHCTA, no talk of RIFs had ever taken place at North Harrison before that meeting.
Rupp, Snyder and Daoud also recalled a 2006 incident in which school board member Ron Coleman tossed handouts from Rupp on the floor during a school board meeting. One of the witnesses likened meeting with the school board as a ‘carnival atmosphere,’ due to all of the chuckles, eye-rolling and non-attention by board members.
Mooney opined, ‘It seems as though no one in authority to give a contract wants one.’
In another matter, Rupp claimed Monday that the NHCTA had extreme difficulty reading Cambridge’s comments in the margins of earlier contract drafts ‘ adding that his fourth-grade students write better. Later in the day, though. Snyder seemed to have no problem reading several items on the draft.
‘I find it interesting that the NHCTA said they had difficulty reading the scribbles or notes or whatever they wanted to call them, but that a member of the bargaining board was able to read those,’ Cambridge said yesterday.
The case will now be reviewed by Marvin Pavlov, hearing examiner for the IEERB, after both sides have entered a file briefing. Pavlov will eventually make a recommendation of results to the IEERB board, which will then approve, deny or return the case to Pavlov for further evaluation.
Results of this week’s hearings should be released in approximately three months, Pavlov said.