The New Orleans school board last week turned down a request to start talks to restore to the city’s teachers’ union the right to bargain employee contracts.
A motion to introduce the resolution in favor of bargaining by Orleans Parish school board member Cynthia Cade garnered one vote in support. Four members voted against it, and one member was absent.
About 200 members of United Teachers of New Orleans, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, rallied before the meeting to push for the resolution’s passage. The union, which once had nearly 5,000 members, was depleted when schools closed after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Then, in February 2006, the school board voted to fire all of the city’s 7,500 teachers. Later that year, the board allowed the union’s contract to expire.
After the meeting, board President Phyllis Landrieu told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that she voted against the resolution because the union has about half a dozen pending lawsuits for tens of millions of dollars against the school board.
But union president Brenda Mitchell vowed to continue to push the issue at future board meetings. “I am disappointed that the board does not value the voice of the employees who work directly with students,” she said.
A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 2007 edition of Education Week