School board sued by teachers union in contract dispute

According to reports, an ongoing labor dispute recently culminated in 13 teachers and the Jefferson Federation of Teachers filing a lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish School Board for allegedly breaching individual employment contracts, as well as failing to maintain the teachers' level of benefits and planning time. The lawsuit was filed in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, Louisiana.

Due to a lack of a union contract, the school administration developed and drafted individual contracts for teachers. The union alleges that the teachers were required to sign this contract and that the board is not keeping its promises. The lawsuit states that when the contracts were signed, the school administration promised to keep existing dental, vision and life insurance benefits in place and promised each teacher about $400 in supplemental insurance. However, earlier this year, that amount was reduced to $325.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the board removed a policy, which had been in place since 1981, to give teachers 25 days of accrued sick leave when they leave the school system. They also claim that teachers are being forced to supervise students during daily planning times. Finally, the lawsuit alleges are some teachers have been required to find new health care providers. As a remedy, the union lawsuit wants the board to honor the promises they made in the contracts.

Clearly, labor and contract disputes may not only go on for a long time, but also may affect many individuals on a personal level. Collective bargaining agreement negotiations can get complex and require parties to sit at a table together to find a workable compromise. It is important for both sides to have competent legal representation to ensure that both sides get a fair deal in end.

Source: Bayou Buzz, "Teachers union sues Jefferson Parish School Board in contract dispute," Oct. 15, 2013

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