We at PSE are your contract experts and every day we are defending classified employee rights in the workplace. Your rights as a classified school employee are contained primarily within your local collective bargaining agreement (CBA), or contract. Contact your chapter president or field representative right away if you need a copy.
Simply put, collective bargaining is the two-way process between an employer (your school district or university) and a labor union. This process determines everything from wages and health benefits to hours and working conditions. The end result of collective bargaining is a legally binding contract that clearly describes employees’ rights and benefits.
Today, some PSE chapters are trying new methods of negotiating. Interest-based bargaining is one approach to collective bargaining. It focuses both parties on resolving issues rather than staking out “hard-line” adversarial positions. Interest-based bargaining is a system based on trust, but not every chapter enjoys equal standing or a positive working relationship with management.
In general, PSE classified employee contracts are negotiated every three years. Minor contract changes and clarifications are negotiated from time to time to deal with unanticipated issues or when labor and management mutually agree to make a change.
PSE provides a wide range of negotiations resources to chapter leaders and bargaining team members so that you get everything you can possibly need when your chapter goes to the bargaining table. We hold occasional workshops and keep our professional staff updated on the latest trends, legal developments and bargaining strategies.
PSE employs union attorneys to assist in negotiations and to enforce collective bargaining agreements. Enforcement actions are handled according to the grievance procedure spelled out in your contract. If a grievance is not resolved at a lower step, a PSE attorney may assist you in taking your grievance to arbitration or to superior court. Our attorneys also file unfair labor practice charges and unit clarification requests with either the state Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) or the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Do your part
Read your contract and understand what it says. If you don’t understand something, ask your chapter president, classification representative or building representative to explain it to you. And if you believe management has violated any of your rights as defined by the contract, tell someone right away so the problem can get resolved quickly.
Also, support your negotiating team when they go to the bargaining table. After all, they’re there to represent you. Respond to surveys and let your chapter representatives know what you want. Through the collective bargaining process, you can get a lot — especially with PSE on your side.