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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco union seeks to stop challenge from advertising in schools



Facing a challenge in its representation of noninstructional workers, the United School Employees of Pasco is looking to maintain its position.

Its leadership hasn't taken too kindly to flyers posted throughout Pasco school district buildings urging "school-related personnel" to "Join the 4,000" in petitioning to shed the USEP.

"We can no longer tolerate the USEP treating us like step-children," the flyer proclaims.

USEP president Kenny Blankenship has demanded the posters be removed. In an email to the district employee relations department, he cited the district's policy limiting advertising as the reason.

"I am requesting that these fliers, and any others representing information by this group be removed from all District Bulletin Boards immediately," Blankenship wrote. He added, "The District should not be meeting with this group of employees to discuss any issues that may be perceived as being related to bargaining, including the processing of grievances. I must remind the District School Board of Pasco County that USEP is the exclusive bargaining agent for district employees."

The administration, which has frequently sparred with the USEP, rejected the request.

"While we can imagine the USEP's frustration with this type of dissension, we also have to respect our employees' right of free speech," director Besty Kuhn responded via email. "We have and will continue to recognize your organization as our employees' exclusive bargaining representative as long as you are.

"That being said, we cannot place either the District or your organization at risk by censuring or otherwise restricting employees from exercising their fundamental rights under the Florida Constitution and the Florida Public Employee Relations Act."

The petition drive continues. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2016 9:45am]


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