CompleteColorado.com has obtained and authenticated a “STRIKE FAQs” flier sent out from the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) to the labor organization’s representatives in schools throughout the district. The flier preps the representatives on a sundry of issues related to organizing a strike, including the legality of a strike, whether or not employees who strike will be paid, and how long a potential strike may last.
An employee at the JCEA headquarters confirmed the flier was sent out to all “ARs” — meaning association representatives. The flier also mentions a “summer of action” kickoff event at Clement Park on Friday, May 29. An employee with the Foothills Park & Recreation District confirmed the amphitheater has been reserved on that date by the JCEA.
The flier seems to portend an ominous future for negotiations between the teachers union and the Jefferson County School Board over a new contract. The current collective bargaining contract expires at midnight, August 31. Negotiations on a new contract to this point largely can be characterized as uneventful, though a series of Tweets from the JCEA’s official account suggest some fundamental disagreements about which factors should determine pay for both new and veteran teachers.
Relations between the JCEA and and the board have been strained ever since a group of three “reformers” won a majority in the 2013 fall election. In the most recent battle, the JCEA sued the board over the implementation of a new pay-for-performance plan for new hires to the district, and recently won a legal judgment for a temporary injunction on that pay plan.
A more significant sign of the deteriorating relationship, however, remains the 2014 “sickouts” — in which some JeffCo teachers protested their unhappiness with the board by calling in sick en masse to various schools. The number of resulting absences was so high the schools were forced to close for the day. An email obtained by Complete Colorado showed a JeffCo union representative urging employees to participate in the sickouts.
While the flier stresses that the JCEA is committed to bargaining with the board, another sentence shows that the topic of striking is being avidly discussed amongst members. “The JCEA leadership has been getting a lot of questions about the legalities and logistics regarding a potential strike,” the flier states. One sentence later, the flier also states, “…but remember that we are doing everything possible to avoid taking an action of this magnitude.”
JCEA President John Ford has not returned an email request for comment.
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