Pasco school-related personnel seek to separate from teachers in union
The United School Employees of Pasco isn't looking so united these days.
A group of non-instructional workers -- often referred to as school-related personnel -- are petitioning to get out of the union that has for years represented both teachers and non-teachers.
"The teachers are entitled to everything they get and more," said bus driver Bill Angelus, who initiated the petition at the urging of others. "We just don't feel we are getting proper representation."
Angelus, a former business agent for the Pinellas school district's non-instructional staff, pointed to a recent bus driver grievance from the Northwest Transportation Compound as an example. Bus drivers had concerns about the way that their routes were handed out and wanted change.
"The union did not do anything," said Angelus, who filed an independent grievance instead. He is not a USEP member.
District administrators ultimately supported the drivers' request, which led them to question why they are part of the USEP, Angelus said.
"People are getting tired of going to meetings and being shut down by people who don't care about noninstructional," he said, noting that the USEP began as a teacher group and expanded when school-related personnel looked to unionize.
To win approval from the state Public Employees Relations Commission, the effort requires signatures from 30 percent of the district's 4,000 noninstructional staff. The group would have to file papers with the PERC to dissolve the USEP's role, and then move to set up a different bargaining arrangement. A vote would be required.
In less than two weeks, Angelus said, getting hundreds of signatures was "very easy." He wouldn't say how close the petition is to completion, offering only that they have "a good amount. We're ahead of what we originally expected by this time."
"That's how many unhappy people there are with the current bargaining union," said Angelus, who continues to collect petition signatures.
USEP president Kenny Blankenship could not be reached for comment said the union is investigating the complaint. He had no further comment. School district officials said they were watching the activity closely, but were not involved.