LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - We're now hearing from union leaders in the Pulaski County Special School District after a state order on Friday to withdraw union recognition and terminate their contracts for the next school year.
A legal fight in court is the unions' next step; both the teachers union known as PACT and the certified staff union known as PASS.
Union memberships met Monday night for more than two hours behind closed doors at the Arkansas Education Association in Little Rock. They discussed recommendations in response to the State Department of Education and its decision Friday not to recognize the unions anymore and change contracts for the next school year. The move was prompted by the district's fiscal distress status and declining fund balances.
PACT Union Spokeswoman Marty Nix says the unions aren't being treated fairly; she says they've offered up large concessions like pay and benefit freezes. And on principle, they just can't ignore this latest de-certification and contract termination.
"We all know our contracts are binding, whether we live in a right to work state or not. A contract is still a contract; it is still a binding agreement," Nix said.
A spokesman for PASS says it's best to let the courts decide who's right and who's wrong in this case. And that's what the majority of all union members agreed to Monday evening. Nix says they hope to get the ball rolling ASAP on the court challenge.
We asked Nix about any chance for a teacher's strike in the coming weeks. She said that's not in the cards; she wants the students to finish off the year on a good note with their teachers in the classroom.
We spoke with Superintendent Dr. Guess earlier Monday and he told us that he expected some sort of legal action from the unions. But he was also worried about the fiscal impact this court battle could have on the district's books.
Dr. Guess said he's worked "tirelessly" to get an agreement with PACT and PASS and hopes the teachers realize that.