The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) rallied in Rockville on Tuesday for transparent contract negotiations.
“Tonight we are here to demand that the Board of Education do their job and exercise their oversight to prevent MCPS from continuing to engage in illegal, unfair labor practices by refusing to negotiate with us in good faith,” said MCEA Vice President Nikki Woodward.
Earlier, MCEA announced they were poised to file an unfair labor practice charge against the Board of Education (BOE). The union accuses the school system of using “unlawful delay tactics, preventing contract negotiations,” per a release. The rally was held ahead of an annual meeting between the MCEA and BOE.
In a statement Tuesday, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) said the complaint would have an “unfortunate impact” on employees.
“Communications with MCEA indicate that they will file an unfair labor practices (ULP) complaint against MCPS later today, which would have an unfortunate impact for MCPS employees by possibly inserting months of delays while holding up discussions over significant, necessary benefits and pay raises,” the statement reads. “The resulting administrative proceding from this action will take away valuable time in which discussions could occur, time that will just place both MCPS and MCEA not at the end of successful negotiations, but at the beginning.”
“At the end of the day, it is a responsibility and commitment of MCPS to serve our employees, so we wonder if this current state is serving their interests and, most importantly, the children and families in our district. MCPS continues to request that MCEA help all of us to move forward, establish ground rules today, and allow us to demonstrate the leadership that is required now. We hope that a mutually beneficial agreement can be reached in collaboration with MCEA and in accordance with our longstanding commitment to work together on behalf of students.”
Dr. Kamila Rankin, a psychologist who supports multiple schools, said during the rally that almost every school psychologist as well as other MCEA colleagues she has spoken to indicated they have been “forced to take work home to complete” because they did not have enough time to finish during the day, and the work is often without pay.
“We are simply stretched too thin,” Rankin said. “As such, we are continuously faced with untenable conditions.” She said the school psychologist to student ratio in MCPS is one psychologist to 1,400 students.
“We are asked to bend over backwards while still holding our classroom with our students in it on our shoulders. It is not doable with the contract that we have now,” said Monica Serafini, an art teacher at Strathmore Elementary School.
“We will not stand by and allow MCPS to unilaterally determine the conditions of this contract,” said Danillya Wilson, a first grade teacher at Wheaton Woods Elementary School and member of MCEA board of directors.
“A teacher’s working condition is a student’s learning condition,” said Chad Wilson, an alternative programs teacher at Watkins Mill High School. “So if the working conditions aren’t suitable or conducive for a good learning environment then what are we saying about what we really care about our students’ future?”
“MCPS is currently failing their teachers. You are taking away our planning time, our ability to provide for our students,” said Emily Cullather, a special education teacher at Rock Terrace School.
— Maryam Shahzad (@maryam_mcm) October 18, 2022