Council members target Register's stance on labor unions

Monday, February 6, 2012 at 2:37pm

Metro Council members are targeting Director of Schools Jesse Register after the superintendent adopted a new policy that appears to curb the influence of support staff unions during labor negotiations.

Councilman Bo Mitchell of Bellevue plans on introducing a non-binding memorializing resolution Tuesday that would urge the Metro Nashville Board of Education and Register to comply with provisions outlined in the district’s existing labor negotiation policy, established in 2000.

That labor policy created a precedent of “memoranda of understanding” in dealing with the local chapters of the Service Employees International Union and the United Steelworkers, which represents custodians and bus drivers, respectively. Labor leaders have described the agreement as a “meet and confer” policy.

But Register has announced he’s overhauled the MOU union policy, which he claims wasn’t legally binding anyway.

“It is still important to have a positive working relationship with support employees and their representatives, but we will no longer have MOU with unions,” Register said in a January e-mail.

In a letter the previous month, Register cited a new Tennessee law that stripped teachers’ unions of their ability to bargain collectively. “For our future relationship with support employee unions to be mutually beneficial and productive, we must acknowledge the recent changes in state law,” he wrote.

Register said his executive staff voted to rescind the district’s labor negotiation policy.

Mitchell, one of the Metro Council’s leading pro-union voices, said the new state law affecting teachers’ unions isn’t applicable to support staff workers because they are non-certified employees.

“The legislation at the state level last year only dealt with certified employees,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also suggested Register overstepped his bounds by making the decision unilaterally.

“The board of education has had a labor policy since June of 2000,” Mitchell said. “Nothing has changed since then. The board has a policy. The director follows the policy instituted by the board.”

Metro school officials have said Register does in fact have the authority to discontinue the MOU policy based on a 2003 board decision.

Mitchell said his resolution currently has 10 council co-sponsors: Buddy Baker, Brady Banks Fabian Bedne, Chris Harmon, Walter Hunt, Darren Jernigan, Lonnell Matthews Jr., Jerry Maynard, Sandra Moore and Peter Westerholm.

Register’s relationship with Metro’s support staff unions has grown contentious in recent years. Register emerged as an adversary to many union leaders in 2010 when he successfully led the effort to reduce the hours of the district’s bus drivers and outsource its custodial services.

Register said those decisions were made to protect the jobs of teachers.

19 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 2/6/12 at 1:46

The Labor Unions buttered the bread of Bo Mitchell. That is okay because the citizenship knows that the Labor Unions are running out of butter.

By: pswindle on 2/6/12 at 2:22

Thank you for standing up for the Unions. It is about time that someone did. Without Unions they can pay as little as they can get by with. I thought that Register should be above politics. They will not stop until every right that we have under the Constitution is taken away. The GOP wantssthe people of TN to be brain-washed and believe as they do. Not on your life!

By: hattrick3 on 2/6/12 at 3:37

Thank you Director Register. Unions have no place in public sectors. Unions are only looking out for themsleves and not the members they serve. For that reason, unions do not care about the public so they should not be employeed in the public sector.

By: Nothing But the... on 2/6/12 at 4:47

Wow - ignorant Yesmen who do the 1%'s dirty work for them spouting off against the unions on a comment board - who would have imagined!

Anyway, now back to reality. Here's something I wish the reporter would have followed up on:

"Metro school officials have said Register does in fact have the authority to discontinue the MOU policy based on a 2003 board decision."

Really? What decision was that? I call b.s. on Jesse Register. If he has proof of this "2003 board decision" - let's see it! Register's already lied about putting all the Metro custodians back to work when the private company came in. And he lied when he said that the workers wouldn't lose any pay or benefits. And he lied yet again when he said that the quality wouldn't drop once the private cleaners came in.

Why should we believe him now?

Here's another gem:

"Register said those decisions [to cut bus driver hours and outsource custodians] were made to protect the jobs of teachers."

Really? Because I distinctly remember that when the Metro Council members grilled Jesse Register about those decisions, Register said nothing about protecting teachers jobs. What he said was that hiring a private company would save money. He never bothered to prove that, which is pathetic because NO EMPLOYER - private or public sector - would have done something so radical without presenting numbers or proof to back up his claims. Don't delude yourself into thinking that Jesse cares about teachers, either. He's throwing them under the bus too.

Obviously, Jesse Register is a big fat liar. Which shouldn't surprise anyone since he's a Republican. I understand why blockheads like Hattrick3 and Rasputin72 fall for his propaganda, they'll believe pretty much anything the 1% tells them. What I don't understand is how the supposedly Democratic members of the school board are buying his nonsense. These are the people in charge of educating our children?

Remember folks, school board elections are this year, so don't forget to update your voter registration!

By: hattrick3 on 2/6/12 at 5:12

I can understand if this was for a position that required years of training and school to attain a certification in a field of work....but we are talking about janitors. If a janitor does not like where he/she works, then go find another cleaning job. I know for a fact there are mops that need a pusher. This is a great example of what is wrong with public education, we have unions who think they are qualified to run a school system when they are not even qualified to run a bunch of high school drop outs.

By: Nothing But the... on 2/6/12 at 5:20

Hattrick you must be from out of the county.

When the custodians were unionized Metro employees, the schools were spotless and the custodians did other work like changing lightbulbs and minor repairs.

Now that the private contractors have come in, the schools look like s**t. Everyone - and I mean EVERYONE who has a child in MNPS can tell you that. And the private, for-profit company refuses to have their people do that maintenance. So now you have bad quality and less work being done.

THIS is why America has gone down the drain, Hattrick. You anti-union lunkheads have sent all the jobs overseas to bust the unions and the ones that are still here are hiring lowest common denominator or illegals to pay for their CEO's bonuses. You and your kind sure are "patriots" Hattrick!

By: pswindle on 2/6/12 at 7:00

Unions are more than a paycheck. Before Unions a teacher could have 42 or more second graders, no P.E. and teachers did not have a bathroom break all day. They did not get a lunch break, they had to eat with the children. Maybe if you were lucky, someone from the office might run down and give you a minute break. You have no idea what you are talking about. Unions protected the child as well as the teachers. Until you have walked in their shoes , shut up. I read the other day that Gov. Haslam said that we could have more children in the classrooms, so we can save money and lay off teachers. You think the scores are low now, just wait. We have been set back in education, not forward and thanks to our newly elected officials. TN is getting just what it deserves. We need a good Nashvillian to be school chief. Register and Haslam worked together to take away Union rights.

By: Teeb on 2/6/12 at 8:28

To paraphrase pswindle on 2/6/12 at 2:22

Screw you for standing up for the Unions. With Unions they can intimidate schools to pay as much as they can get by with. I thought that the Metro Council should be above politics. They will not stop until every right that we have under the Constitution is taken away. The Democrats want the people of TN to be brain-washed and believe as they do. Not on your life!

Haha. Same old crap.

By: govskeptic on 2/7/12 at 6:38

The list of co-sponsors of this resolution is the same ole suspects. Those
who ignore what is best for students and voters in favor of the political
support and donations from the metro employees and their Unions. Mr
Register was hired and continues to be based on his and the School
System's improvement. These distractors have absolutely nothing on
the line other than self interest and for Council members Re-election!

By: spooky24 on 2/7/12 at 6:46

Good job director Register!

I think we need to find something constructive for these council members to do. How about jacks, mumbletypeg or lego blocks to start with.


By: Moonglow1 on 2/7/12 at 10:07

Moonglow1: The idea espoused by the Tea Nuts like Register is that the private sector always does a better job than the public sector. No, that is not true. As a matter of fact, the reason why our federal govt is bloated is due to outsourcing public jobs to private companies who employ questionable accounting tactics to "skim public" money into their greedy hands.

And now the same is happening in state gov't. The Haslam administration's primary mission is to gut the public sector and give the jobs to the private sector. Such a deal! And, the public has been dumbed down to think a decent wage is no longer the norm. This is the case even though companies are reporting record profits.

The only reason why we have a middle class in America is due to the unions who fought for labor rights. Read up on the exploitation of Chinese workers by Apple. The numbers of Chinese workers working in the Apple factories who commit suicide due to the inhumane working conditions to make your I-pod is astounding. So if you want to end up as slave labor, go ahead and support the extreme right wing nut job like Register or cast your vote for American labor. Stand up for yourself. Don't be fooled.

By: Balo on 2/7/12 at 6:43

Let me see if I have this picture correct. The support staff, who are the back bone of the school operation, cannot have a recognized spokesperson to look out for their interest However, artist, athletes and politicians can have agents and also belong to a union to look out for their interest. Just trying to figure it out?

By: Radix on 2/8/12 at 7:24

Thank You Director Register.

Please continue to stand firm against the greedy unions who are stealing the hard-earned wages of workers to buy off politicians like Mitchell.Keep up the good work.

Occupy boneheads want to keep corporate money out of politics, but mysteriously give a pass to union money... maybe because 96% of union donations go to libs? Pure corruption.

By: Rasputin72 on 2/8/12 at 7:47

I am glad to see so many comments that portray the unions as "progress stoppers"

By: Moonglow1 on 2/8/12 at 8:06

Moonglow1: I hope all of you against unions lose your jobs. You will figure out that you are nothing more than a widget to most companies. If you think any company has your interest at heart you are fooling yourself. Unions represent the people as they should. You should also be against "a right to work state. ". What that means is you have no rights and can be fired without cause. It should be called "the right to fire state. "

Those of you against unions are misinformed and watch too much Fox News. It is incredible how brainwashed the public has become. They actually vote against their own interests. They vote laws in that help the 1 percent.

Why do you think there is a war against climate change? It is because reduced gas cinsumption hurts BP, the Koch brothers, and other gas and oil interests. These people want you dumb and without union representation.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/8/12 at 8:10

Moonglow1: correction to above. I meant consumption.

By: Left-of-Local on 2/8/12 at 9:36

Register beats the hell out of that jackass Garcia, but he should be careful not to screw himself with neoconservative missteps that could drain his fragile support.

By: Radix on 2/8/12 at 9:43

I knew Moonglow couldn't get through a post without mentioning the Koch Brothers. LOL

Moonglow you have to get through your bony head some very basic principles:
When people (including the wealthy) do well, the lower class shrinks (they move up). When the economy does well, people do well. When businesses do well the economy does well. When the economy fails, the wealthy sit on their money, while the poor quickly exhaust what they have. People work hard when competition and free markets are allowed to thrive. When people work HARD, the economy thrives and value is created. Unions stifle value, hurt productivity, and reward mediocrity. When you take money away from the successful, they stop trying, and jobs go away. Without incentive, people do nothing.

It is a myth that there is a limited amount of wealth and a limited number of people are hogging it up. Wealth is created, and anyone can create it by working hard and making good decisions. Anyone and everyone can be wealthy.

My wife is rank and file at a huge corporation. They have treated us very fairly. I am self employed. I have done very well too. No unions necessary on either account. When you work hard, you a value to a company and they will pay to keep you.

I will never again share my hard-earned money with a greedy union. I refuse. If my job dries up for some reason, I won't blame anyone. I will re-tool if necessary and find somewhere else to create wealth and contribute value.

By: JeffF on 2/8/12 at 1:39

pswindle you did this "Before Unions a teacher could have 42 or more second graders, no P.E. and teachers did not have a bathroom break all day" a few weeks ago. Yes the COULD have 42 students and there COULD be no PE and there COULD be no bathroom breaks, but there is no documentation in reality for any of this, let alone all of it.

Before unions all the students in her class COULD have come from one of Jupiter's moons, COULD have been cannibals, and COULD have arrived at school via large helium bubbles. Quit arguing with Schrodingers cat and start talking talking facts with us in the real world.