Should a teachers union representative have access to a school's employee lounge?
To meet with employees, United School Employees of Pasco president Kenny Blankenship tried to make plans to visit the Veterans Elementary School staff lounge during lunch periods.
The school's leadership rejected the request, offering a conference room instead. But Blankenship wasn't satisfied with that space, which would not necessarily have faculty and staff passing through.
He noted that the Pasco school district's contract assures the union the right to visit schools to communicate with members, so long as the meetings don't occur during times scheduled for student interaction.
Denied, the union filed grievances and, then, an unfair labor practices complaint against the district.
District employee relations director Betsy Kuhn has argued that the school never told USEP leaders that they could not meet at the school. Rather, she contended, the school simply offered space other than the employee lounge, and nothing in the contract gives the union the sole right to choose the location of its meetings on a school campus.
Deputy superintendent Ray Gadd said that the district is not trying to dissuade union conversations. It simply wants to allow employees the ability to go to lunch without being confronted unexpectedly by a union official.
In emails, Blankenship has said he sees "no room for movement on the part of the district," and that's why he filed the labor complaint.