South Burlington March 13, 2012 Press Release

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South Burlington March 13, 2012 Press Release Powered By Docstoc
					                SOUTH BURLINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
                                 500 DORSET STREET
                                                                                 Phone: 802-652-7250
                             SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT 05403                           Fax: 802-652-7257
                       OFFICE: FREDERICK H. TUTTLE MIDDLE SCHOOL               E-mail: sbsd@sbschools.net




                                     Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2012

For additional information contact:              Elizabeth Fitzgerald
                                                 South Burlington School Board
                                                 (802) 865-4554

Re: South Burlington Unfair Labor Practice VLRB Decision

The South Burlington School Board is surprised and disappointed that the Vermont
Labor Relations Board (VLRB) has issued a ruling that a threatening e-mail sent to the
School Board’s Chair by the Vermont National Educators Association (VT-NEA), with
the support of the South Burlington Educators Association (SBEA), was not an unfair
labor practice. The VLRB reached this conclusion despite factual findings that the local
SBEA leadership had “targeted” the Board Chair since October, 2010, and that the e-
mail threatened the Chair’s business interests if he did not convince the Board to
change its bargaining position. The VLRB’s decision reflects that it essentially required
an admission by the VT-NEA and the SBEA that they intended to force Mr. Cassidy to
recuse himself, and, absent such an admission, could not find that an unfair labor
practice had been committed. Further, the VLRB’s decision requires more than a threat
to the livelihood of a Board member in order to find bad faith in the context of collective
bargaining.

The School Board believes there was substantial evidence supporting its charge and
continues to feel strongly that it had to pursue the unfair labor practice charge to stand
up for the community’s ability to choose its representatives, to allow them to serve
without intimidation, and to ensure that the SBEA and VT-NEA bargain in good faith.

The VLRB’s majority opinion does contain some alarming factual findings regarding the
conduct of SBEA co-President Richard Wise, who denied in March, 2011 that the SBEA
knew about or was involved in the sending of the e-mail. Testimony at the VLRB
demonstrated, however, that the e-mail had in fact been circulated to the SBEA
leadership for review and approval before Mr. Cook sent it to Chair Cassidy. Mr. Wise’s




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verbatim response was: “Send it. It’s awesome.” On this point, the VLRB’s majority
opinion observed:
    [W]e note that the actions of SBEA co-President Wise in this regard could be
    detrimental to future labor relations with the School Board. As discussed
    above, the evidence indicates that Wise informed a School Board member
    shortly after the sending of the e-mail that the SBEA had nothing to do with the
    e-mail and did not support it. The evidence belies such assertion. Cook sent
    Wise a draft of the e-mail before sending it to Cassidy to see if SBEA approved
    it, and Wise approved of it. Wise’s approval to Cook to send the e-mail
    indicates SBEA involvement in sending it. The lack of forthrightness by Wise
    with a School Board member in acknowledging his involvement in the e-mail
    was not conducive to furthering a productive relationship with the School Board.

The participation of an SBEA officer in this tactic and his subsequent lack of
forthrightness about his actions are troubling to the School Board. School Board
members Martin LaLonde and Julie Beatty testified that the willingness of the Board to
return to negotiations after losing Mr. Cassidy’s representation would have been
influenced by information that the local SBEA had both known about the email from Mr.
Cook, and had approved it.

While the School Board is disappointed with the VLRB’s ruling on the merits, it remains
resolute in its assessment of the situation and its decision to pursue this matter,
particularly given the evidence developed during the matter regarding the conduct of
SBEA leadership. School Board members should not have to withstand personal and
professional threats of this sort or a lack of forthrightness by SBEA leadership when
choosing to serve their communities.




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