Ogden School District vs the union

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After the Ogden School District saw contract negotiations break down with the teacher’s union earlier this summer, they went directly to the teachers. In a letter sent out over the 4th of July weekend, they asked teachers to sign a yearly contract directly with the district.

Under the new contract, teachers received almost 3% in salary increase and a 1.6% cost-of-living increase. The school district is also phasing out “pay steps” – a tenure-based pay increase schedule – and is moving to performance pay.

In fact, this is not the first time the Ogden teachers union has refused to negotiate. Last year, the school district offered “no increase in taxes, no increase in class size, no reduction of school year, no reduction of personnel, no cuts in student programs, and protection of retirement and health insurance benefits” but it was rejected by the union and went to mediation. This year, the same tactic was tried but the school district did not blink.

Now, several weeks after the July 20 deadline to return the contract, all but one teacher (out of more than 700) signed and returned it to the District. The Ogden Education Association publicly asked all teachers to give them the signed contract so the OEA could deliver it to the District. Only 140 did – approximately 20% of the total (hardly an overwhelming show of support).

While several other school districts are passing new tax increases this year, including Alpine and Davis, the Ogden School District has not raised taxes. They were also able to give raises to their teachers without collective bargaining – imagine. They have not cut the school year, or reduced staff.

Is the OEA happy for the increase in pay for their teachers? Hardly. They are acting like a petulant child and throwing a tantrum. While the Ogden School Board is focused on the children and on improving their educational outcome, the OEA is focused on, well, retribution. OEA president Doug Stephens sent the following letter to union members this week:

From: Doug Stephens
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 8:54 PM
Subject: Plan of Action

O.E.A. Members,

Our situation in the Ogden City Schools, reminds me of a poem that I learned a long time ago from a wonderful teacher:

Opportunity, Edward R. Sill

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:-
There spread a cloud of dust, along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel-
That blue blade that the king’s song bears – but this
Blunt thing!”- he snapped and flung it from his hand.
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

We have been slammed pretty hard but we need to look for opportunity in this situation. Your O.E.A. leadership team has a plan. We will outline that plan to your A.R.’s on Monday August 22nd and get their input. I will then share that plan with all of you.

We are asking now for all of you to do six things:

1. Be professionals (As we always have been through the contract disputes of the last two years). Our fight will be primarily a political one this year. Throughout this contract crisis we have had the majority of the public on our side. We need to maintain and increase that by continued professional behavior.

2. We need to maintain our O.E.A/U.E.A. percentage of membership in the district. Our large numbers of members has always made us strong. That is more crucial now than ever before. We cannot be as the “craven… and lowering creep away and leave the field”. We cannot worry about what we have lost but be as the “king’s son…Lifted afresh [and hew] his enemy down, and [save] a great cause”.

3. We need each of you to set aside the evening of Thursday September 15th, and be in attendance for a protest (not a rally) at the district office for a school board meeting. It is critical that we get 400 plus in attendance at this protest. We need to have our shouts be heard all over Ogden and have it deafening in the school board meeting. This will get the issue back on the T.V. and the front page of newspapers. More information will follow on this.

4. Our political battles will take large amounts of O.E.A/U.E.A.- P.A.C. dollars. We are asking each member to give at least $30.00 to our P.A.C. fund this year. That is less than $5.00 a month between now and when school ends in May 2012. All the money we raise this year in our P.A.C. will stay with us. To be able to give a candidate, that we select, for a school board race, thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to help in a campaign is unbeatable in a local election.

5. We need each of you to email Rick Palmer (Our Uniserv Director) your personal email address. We need a secure way to communicate with each other. Rick’s email is rick@ogdenweber.org. If you need to communicate with me in a confidential way, my second email is dstephens1@weber.edu.

6. We need to always include our fellow teachers who are not O.E.A. members. Please help us by getting the word out to all Ogden City School teachers when we have activities or share information that we distribute.

We will win this battle, but we need to work together. A lot will be asked of you -please help us.

Thanks,

Doug Stephens
O.E.A. President

So there you have it – a school district that puts kids and teachers first is “the enemy” to be hewn down, a battle to be won (on TV, it would appear and then at the ballot box) and let us not forget, a prime fundraising opportunity for a public employees union.

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6 Responses to “Ogden School District vs the union”

  1. Daniel B. Says:

    Heck, if the teachers can do the math, they just got more bang for their buck if they keep the $30 and take the 3% raise…that’s a larger raise than the average person got last year.

  2. Daniel B. Says:

    BTW: Does it bother anyone that he’s giving out his government email address for anyone who wants to talk to him “in a confidential” way at the end of an email that’s clearly political in nature? Isn’t that a violation of use of government property in promotion of union activities?

  3. Email Doug Stephens. On his government email. “In a confidential way…” | After the Bar Says:

    […] upshot? While several other school districts are passing new tax increases this year, […]

  4. Jerome Borden Says:

    Those planning on attending Precinct Caucus meetings next March, be prepared. The UEA will flood those meetings with their folks. Objective will be to prevent anything silly such as Vouchers, Charter Schools, or “Right to Work” for teachers.

    They already know me in Layton, so I’m toast.

  5. Cameron Says:

    The stacking the caucus thing reminded me of this oldie and goodie post by Reach Upward & his experience with educator stacking efforts.

  6. Letter confirms that power is top issue for Ogden teachers union | Sutherland Daily Says:

    […] a letter from OEA President Doug Stephens to the union membership (hat tip to Holly on the Hill for publishing the letter) – has surfaced to substantiate this […]

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