Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New board will decide Jefferson contract’s fate

Because the outgoing Jefferson Parish School Board could not convene a quorum before the end of 2010, the fate of a collective bargaining agreement with the parish’s 3,000 school support staff rests with a newly elected board. The issue could be decided at a meeting scheduled for January 6 at 5:00 P.M.

Employee hopes ran high in early December, when Board President Gene Katsanis and Member Cedric Floyd led an effort to award collective bargaining rights to unions representing the employees. Despite opposition and legal challenges from some in the business community, the board voted to allow bargaining with the employees.

The Jefferson Federation of Teachers and Service Employees International Union Local 21 negotiated contracts on behalf of employees, who then ratified the contracts. The former board missed its opportunity to ratify in the week between Christmas and New Years, however, leaving the issue for the new board to decide.

Katsanis was one of five board members defeated for re-election in November; Floyd will retain his seat.

JFT President Meladie Munch said that she intends to pursue ratification with the new board.
“Everything is in place for employees to have a contract,” Munch said. “We are waiting for the new board to place the item on the meeting agenda. We hope the board will agree to this contract, which has already been ratified by employees.

“It is truly an issue of respect and dignity for these members of the education family,” Munch said. “Jefferson Parish support employees have the lowest salaries in the New Orleans area, and are $2,000 below the state average."

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