Union flyer causes flap
A recruitment flyer recently sent by the Pinellas teachers union to prospective members created a small stir at Tuesday’s school board workshop, with some board members suggesting the district should send out a clarification.
Several board members thought the flyer – titled “YOUR RIGHTS: HERE TODAY … GONE TOMORROW” - could lead teachers to think the district, rather than the Legislature, was out to curb their rights to things like due process, daily planning and duty free lunch.
“It gets everybody all cranked up,” said board member Peggy O’Shea. “It’s scaring some of our people and I want to protect our people.”
“I think that is kind of misleading,” said member Janet Clark (who also said she was not in favor of a clarification letter). “I don’t think the district would ever want to take these things away from people.”
"No matter how much we say it’s the Legislature, I feel that many employees think that it’s really us," said member Linda Lerner.
The flyer in question lists rights that the union says will be eliminated if PCTA or PESPA is decertified by legislative action. It specifically mentions the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. It does not mention the Pinellas County School District or Pinellas County School Board. “PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS! PROTECT YOUR JOB! SAVE OUR CONTRACT! JOIN TODAY!” it says.
The flyer “never once said Pinellas County schools or the board wouldn’t honor their commitment,” said union president Kim Black, who briefly addressed the board. “It talks about the fact that the Legislature in every single way is going after the process for the new teachers, it’s going after teacher rights at every single level. So I’m not really sure why there was a need to respond to the flyer. It’s the first time ever in the history of PCTA that I’ve ever known that the district would make a response to any union piece.”
Superintendent Julie Janssen said she would have hoped that PCTA would have shown her the flyer first to “give me a heads up.”
Board member Terry Krassner, who opposed the idea of a response letter from the district, suggested the idea of a joint clarification from Janssen and PCTA. Lerner said she liked that idea, too. But it fell flat.
Instead, Black and Janssen agreed to talk about the issue. Black said if anybody at the district had a problem with the flyer, they could have called her.