JUNEAU, Alaska – Teachers in Alaska’s capital are sending emails to parents explaining they will no longer work beyond what’s stipulated in their teachers’ contract as a form of protest over an ongoing labor dispute in the district.
The Juneau Education Association and the Juneau School District are deadlocked in negotiations over a new teachers’ contract. The union wants a multi-year contract with a cost-of-living pay increase, but school and union officials have revealed few other details about negotiations, the Juneau Empire reports.
The stalemate prompted some teachers to write emails to parents explaining why they’ve decided not to put in any extra effort for the foreseeable future. Apparently, union members believe that by turning their backs on students – by refusing to be available for after-school help or to write letters of recommendation – taxpayers will somehow sympathize with their plight.
“The job that we do is nearly impossible in the time we are paid to do it,” one Riverbend Elementary teacher wrote in an email to parents, according to the news site.
“Many of my colleagues and I do hours and hours of work beyond what we get paid for on a daily basis – either at school or at home. We choose to do that because it directly benefits your children and the quality of their education, which is the utmost importance to us. Yet, the more of our own time we spend on our jobs, the more it is simply becoming the expectation,” the teacher wrote.
Juneau Education Association President Dirk Miller said his members are “in it for the kids, not for the money,” but was quick to highlight the fact that “we don’t even have a cost of living increase,” according to the Juneau Empire.
While teachers pout over the unproductive labor contract negotiations, the school board will hold a special board meeting tomorrow to discuss collective bargaining, and the union plans to hold a general membership meeting Thursday to prepare for a strike, the news site reports.
“We just want to get back to teaching and not worrying about the contract stuff,” Miller said.
In the emails to parents, teachers encouraged them to contact the superintendent and school board about teachers’ decision to put students on the back burner.
Teachers want parents to validate their temper tantrum by echoing the union’s complaints to district leaders. But a far more productive course of action would be for parents to investigate the details of contract negotiations, and to formulate their own opinion on how their tax dollars should be spent.
That, however, may be more difficult than necessary, if school officials continue to stay mum about what’s going on at the bargaining table, and their priorities in negotiations.
“The school district did not respond to a call about this story as of press time,” the Juneau Empire reports.