Contract Mediation Progress

Progress toward contract mediation was made this morning via conference call between negotiators for the Board and TAAAC with the mutually selected impartial mediator. The mediators requested some further information from each party and offered dates ranging from the middle of July through late August. Each party is in the process of surveying its respective team members for availability.

If the mediation is successful, TAAAC may be in position to have an agreement to present for ratification at the September Association Representative Council.

TAAAC SICK LEAVE BANK, GOOD NEWS FOR CURRENT ENROLLEES

In the spring of 2011, TAAAC and the Board went into negotiations specifically to make necessary changes in the operation of the Sick Leave Bank (SLB). Among the items to be addressed was a $525,000 limit to days a that the Sick Leave Bank Approval Committee (SLBAC) was allowed to grant. Each day was valuated at a per diem rate computed from the average annual AACPS salary of the previous year. Over time, increases in both the number of enrollees and the value of each day granted far outran the dollar amount limit. It had to be raised or eliminated at the risk of becoming a much diminished benefit. Among other changes to the operation of the SLB, the eventual outcome included an elimination of the dollar amount limit, thereby allowing the SLBAC to grant any amount of days up to the total amount of days contributed by enrollees.

From that year through to the present, the SLB collected a sick leave day from every enrollee. That was not the practice when it labored under the dollar amount limit. There was no purpose in collecting more days that could be granted. For various reasons, one being the conscientious and judicious approach to grant requests by the SLBAC, there is a surplus of days rolling over into the coming year.

SO, AT ITS END-OF-YEAR MEETING THE SLBAC UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THE FOLLOWING FOR FY2017:
  • SLB enrollees on record as of today, June 30, 2016, will remain in the SLB through the June 30, 2017, and will not need to contribute a day. They will need to take no action to remain in the bank. AACPS Payroll staff will be advised not to deduct the day from the individual accounts.
  • New hires and other new enrollees coming into the SLB will need to contribute, and that contribution will be one (1) day.
  • The SLBAC will reserve the right to collect an additional half-day in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary during the year.
  • The SLBAC action effectively provides over 4,400 enrollees a short term disability income protection product free of charge.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

TAAAC, like all unions in the US, is a corporation. It is chartered under Section 501(c)5 of the Internal Revenue Code and operates under the pertinent laws and regulations. Like all corporations, it has a governing body. TAAAC’s elected governance consists of its Board of Directors, consisting of three officers (President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer) and nine Directors. Those officers and directors share the same fiduciary responsibilities to TAAAC that is required of any governance of any corporation. Among those responsibilities are the duties of care and loyalty. These obligations exist whether the discussion involves governance of TAAAC, the United Way, or ExxonMobile.

An inherent conflict of interest exists in any situation where a corporation’s Director administers, contributes to, or otherwise participates in, an outside organization that proclaims its purpose to be the “watch dog” of the corporation. The conflict is readily apparent when postings to the outside organization’s social media page are often untrue, inaccurate, to the detriment of the corporation; and cannot be fact-checked or policed by those who possess complete information. Unfortunately, the situation described above is one that TAAAC will soon face unless the conflict is resolved.

The Bruised Apples Facebook page has been quite active over a controversy involving an allegation that TAAAC’s President and Executive Director directed the two Directors-elect to shut down the Bruised Apples Facebook page that they founded. I am obliged to provide information that has not been part of the discussion (to my knowledge) but cannot be overlooked. If it has been part of the discussion, I am unaware due to the closed nature of the page.

It is true that the Directors-elect were advised that a conflict of interest would exist if they took seats on the Board and continued their participation on the Bruised Apples’ closed page. It is also true that they were told a shutdown of the page would resolve that conflict and allow them to their respective seats conflict-free. However, the two Directors-elect were given another option as well. Both were told in the very same conversation that opening the site and lifting veil of secrecy would also eliminate any conflict of interest.

TAAAC and the founders of the Bruised Apples share at least one common interest. That is to improve the professional and economic lives of local public educators. As the lawfully selected exclusive negotiating agent for those educators, TAAAC has both legal standing and fiduciary obligation. Logic dictates the two should be collaborating. Sadly, they are not. As undesirable as internal conflict can be, TAAAC cannot ignore a conflict of interest in its own governance.

Necessity requires that this matter is resolved, and unity is in the best interest of every educator in the school system. The page should be opened. Information would flow more freely; and conflicts of interest would not exist, or at least would not be secret.