By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The two groups seeking to be the official union for Carmel Clay Schools teachers met face-to-face for the first time in December to discuss their differences in mediation but came away with little to show for it.
The Carmel Clay Education Association, the teachers’ current union, and the Carmel Teachers Association, a group seeking to become its union, have been at odds for months, leaving CCS teachers without a contract for the 2016-2017 school year.
Now, both sides are waiting for the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board to rule on an unfair labor practice complaint filed by CCEA. The complaint alleges that the school district assisted in the formation of the Carmel Teachers Association and assisted teachers in obtaining signatures to decertify CCEA. The district has refuted these claims.
IEERB moved the original hearing date – Jan. 25 – after CCEA’s lawyer stepped down citing a conflict of interest. The attorney also represents the Indiana State Teachers Association, which in December declared CCEA “not in good standing” after it claimed it failed to pay dues.
IEERB gave CCEA until Jan. 27 to find a new attorney and set the new hearing for March 1. As of Jan. 30, CCEA still hadn’t named a new lawyer, so CTA has requested that the unfair labor practice complaint hearing be moved up two weeks.
“The continued delay impacts the income of every teacher as well as the morale in every building,” stated a CTA email update sent Jan. 21. “Clearly, this move by CCEA delays the representation hearing and the representation election, which in turn delays when bargaining can take place.”
Even though ISTA has declared CCEA “not in good standing,” membership in ISTA is among the biggest points of contention between CCEA and CTA. CCEA annual membership dues are more than $750, with all but $52 going to ISTA and the National Educators Association. CTA membership dues are expected to be closer to $100 because the organization would not require teachers to also join the state and national associations, although they may opt in individually.
“ISTA is a professional association that strives to sustain high quality public education in Indiana, improve students’ educational opportunities, and advance the professional status of educators. These are goals our members believe in and support,” CCEA President Brian Lyday said. “The question of good standing was raised by ISTA; and whereas maintaining an affiliation is not solely done at the election of a local, it’s unfortunate and disappointing ISTA has not demonstrated the same amount of support toward CCEA.”
ISTA membership was among the many issues discussed at mediation, and both sides said it was a “deal breaker.”
In an email sent after mediation, CCEA officials stated that although the two sides didn’t reach an agreement, they felt “progress was made.”
“We appreciated the opportunity to have an open discussion with (CTA) and are hopeful further talks can take place,” it stated. “Ultimately, we are all on the same team and only want the best possible results for all Carmel teachers.”
Last year, CTA gathered enough teacher signatures to hold a vote on whether or not to decertify CCEA as the official union. The vote can’t take place until IEERB rules on the unfair labor practice complaint.