Nearly 50 parents, faculty and staff showed up at the monthly Morris Jeff Charter School meeting Tuesday afternoon as the school’s teacher’s union, Morris Jeff United Educators, rallied to get get school board approval for a collective bargaining agreement.
According to union representatives at the meeting, about 80 percent of faculty and staff of Morris Jeff signed a petition in favor of entering into a collective bargaining agreement with the board. Representatives also said the school had a former teacher’s union under the Louisiana Association of Educators, but recently switched to the United Teachers of New Orleans.
Many teachers and parents spoke to the board about their support of the union and the agreement and urged the board to do the same.
Chris Moore, second grade teacher at Morris Jeff, said that it is “crucial” to improve communication and the agreement would create “a clear space to collaborate and problem solve.”
“This union, representing teacher and staff voice, will better ensure that teachers can best represent and advocate for their students and themselves so that everyone that is a part of our school community is the best it can be,” Moore said.
Benjamin Franklin High School recently entered into a collective agreement with their school board last week, according to an article by NOLA.com.
Greg Swanson, a teacher at Ben Franklin, talked about their teacher’s union experience thus far.
“We just went through this process and its not that bad,” Swanson said. “We’re all here for the same thing.”
Swanson said that communication between teachers and the school board has already begun to improve greatly.
“What’s been amazing about it is the communication we now have after, that we didn’t have before. We have an open dialogue that we never had at the school and we’re working together as a team,” Swanson said. “It is something you should really give a shot.”
Amanda Butler, vice president of the board, mentioned that the cost of the collective bargaining negotiation could be expensive and said that Ben Franklin’s agreement cost their board about $150,000.
“It’s hard for me to want to spend $150,000 in a contract,” Butler said.
Butler said that she wants to work with the union collaboratively to reach an agreement, but does not want to get caught up in the budget of the process of doing so.
“I don’t undertake this decision lightly,” Butler said.
Brooke Muntean, Morris Jeff parent and president of the Morris Jeff Family Partnership, said that the agreement would be well worth it.
“$150,000 is a lot already, but having teachers who are valued and respected at the school; that value in the end run is worth so much,” Muntean said.
According to Jennifer Weishaupt, secretary of the Morris Jeff school board, the proposal for the agreement will be further discussed and voted upon at next month’s school board meeting.