CPS provides additional information on position amid dispute with union

2 months 1 day 8 hours ago Wednesday, April 24 2019 Apr 24, 2019 Wednesday, April 24, 2019 3:18:00 PM CDT April 24, 2019 in News
By: Steve Lambson, KOMU 8 News Content Manager

COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools provided additional information Wednesday amid a legal dispute over collective bargaining with the Columbia Missouri National Education Association.

CMNEA filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming the district "bargained in bad faith during recent contract negotiations," which the association said violated teachers' constitutional rights.

At the heart of the matter: certification by the Missouri State Board of Mediation and a law - House Bill 1413 - passed in 2018 changing the requirements for union certification.

CPS asked CMNEA to get certified by the state board by July 1, 2019, or else their collective bargaining contract with the union would expire. CMNEA said CPS's demand wasn't possible due to a court injunction preventing HB 1413 from taking effect.

In an email to KOMU 8 News, CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark provided details from Nickie Smith, the district's chief human resources officer, about the recent contract negotiations and the "impasse" between the district and CMNEA.

In the email, Smith said there was a 10-month period between when HB 1413 became law and when the injunction took effect. That, according to Smith, was enough time for CMNEA to get certified. Smith said at least two other school districts got certified in that time.

Smith further said "a preliminary injunction does not nullify the law.  The law is still in place.  The district, as a public government entity, must uphold the law."

In April, the district and CMNEA did agree to changes in teacher compensation and salary schedule in spite of the certification disagreement. 

"It has always been the intent of the Columbia Board of Education to listen to teachers when it comes to salaries, working conditions and any other concerns," Smith said in the email. "Approval of the compensation improvements and the new salary schedule is a prime example of this intent."

In response to a request for comment, CMNEA spokesman Mark Jones pointed to a notice on the main page of the State Board of Mediation website, which says the following:

"On March 8, 2019 the Circuit Court in St. Louis issued an order enjoining the Missouri Department of Labor and the Missouri State Board of Mediation from administering and enforcing the changes made to the state's public sector labor organization law as passed by the legislature in HB 1413 (2018).

"The Department is reviewing this order and further updates will be posted as appropriate."

Jones said this "clearly shows" the board is unable to take the action CPS is asking for.

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