Legal counsel for union arbitration decisions would be a good alternative to resolving disputes between employers and workers, just like what happened in Colorado.
Labor strikes often occur due to common disagreements on proper compensation, benefits and recognition from employers. This proved to be a case of Pueblo Education Association (PEA) and the Pueblo Paraprofessional Education Association members against the Pueblo City Schools (D60).
Legality of A Strike
D60 had sent out a memo to its staff that a strike could be against the state law, but some associations believed otherwise. Brad Bartels, Colorado Education Association legal counsel, said that unions have a “qualified right” to a strike. The situation would likely change if the state department of labor and employment decides to take over the case.
The agency decided not to intervene in the dispute like it did in 1998, when D60 and its staff sent a joint request for dispute mediation. For the present case, PEA and PPEA members recently reached a tentative deal with D60 that could signal the end of a strike.
PPEA members already accepted the terms of the agreement, which includes five strike days (two excused leaves, three days covered by D60) for teachers and paraprofessionals for the school year 2017-2018. The next school year will involve a one-time payment of $500 in June and $520 for health insurance for each member by September. It also includes a 3.25% increase in the cost of living allowance (COLA).
PEA members’ deal includes a 2% increase in COLA that would retroactive to January, another 2.5% increase in COLA and $520 in health insurance for each member in September. Members will also have five strike days for the present school year.
A labor strike can be costly to business and whether it is illegal, employers need to find common ground with their picketing workforce by using third-party mediation.