Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unions Rally at School Board meeting of 2/14/2012

Supporters Rally for the SEIU and Unions. 
No Valentine's Day Love for Register. 

School Board Meetings can be very boring. This was not a boring meetings. A large crowd packed the February 14th School Board meeting, the majority there to protest the Metro School Board's cancellation of the 12-year-old Memorandum of Understanding with the unions. This School Board meeting was the first since the  Metro Council meeting in which the Council voted 29-5 to urge Register to comply with the district’s current labor negotiation policy.

Elected officials attending the meeting included Representatives Mike Steward, Sherry Jones, Mike Turner, Gary Moore, Janice Sontany, Brenda Gillmore, and Council Members Jason Potts, Karen Johnson, Davette Blalock, Scott Davis, Fabian Bedne and Brady Banks.

Unlike the Metro Council meetings which strictly prohibit the display of signs in the chamber, the crowd at the School Board meeting were allowed to display signs and union supporters waved red valentine-like signs that said "Have a heart." Also, unlike the Council meetings which discourages applause and outburst, applause and cheering was permitted.

The "Public Participation" portion of the School Board meeting had a large number of people wanted to speak. Speakers were limited to three minutes. (It starts at 18:17 in the video.) A couple speakers spoke about school reassignment request for their child and such matters but all of the others were there to speak about the School Board's termination of the Memorandum of Understanding. All speaking on this issue were speaking in favor of the unions with the exception of Councilman Steve Glover. Speakers worth noting are these:
  • Pastor Don Beisswenger, a retired Vanderbilt Divinity School professor known for his civil disobedience and involvement in left wing causes, was the first speaker speaking in favor of the unions. 
  • Jim Buckley of the United Steel Workers (23:09) takes the opportunity to slam Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin and refused to abide by the three minute time limit and keeps talking after being told his time was up. 
  • Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205 (32:00) complains that he has filed a formal complaint with the board and has yet to receive a reply. He also takes issue with Metro Councilmember and former School Board Member Steve Glover's interpretation of the Director's authority to set district policy. 
  • Representative Gary Moore, who is also President of the Tennessee AFL-CIO calls for cooperation and open dialogue to settle issues (35:27). 
  • Representative Brenda Gilmore (36:48). 
  • Representative Mike Turner (39:17) 
  • James Brown speaks out about the new employee handbook restrictions (41:40). 
  • Former Council Member Vivian Wilhoite (45:00). 
  • Councilman and former School Board Member Steve Glover (1:08:42) explains the sequence of events that led to the current situation and why the Director of Schools was correct in following the law and acting within their policies. His comments were met with boos. 

What will happen next? Register, after this public hearing told reporters that he doesn’t plan to change his position on unions. I think most people think Jesse Register has been a good Director of Schools. However, I wonder if by standing up to the unions he has been too bold and made too many enemies. Are his days numbered?

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