The Metro school board chair has rejected claims of the Service Employees International Union Local 205, which in January accused Director of Schools Jesse Register of unilaterally stripping rights of support staff employees.
“After careful consideration, I arrived at the conclusion that your complaint against the director of schools is without merit and should proceed no further,” board chair Gracie Porter wrote in a March 12 letter to SEIU Local 205 president Doug Collier.
Porter was referencing the 2-month-old complaint over Register’s recent decision  to do away with the school district’s 12-year-old “memoranda of understanding” policy in dealing with the SEIU, which represents custodians and groundskeepers, and the United Steelworkers, comprised of school bus drivers.
Union leaders have called the MOU agreement a “meet and confer” policy. But Register, who they have roundly criticized, scrapped the nonbinding statute by adopting a new Support Staff Handbook, a move the district’s central office has claimed is authorized. Union representatives contend he overreached his power.
The Metro Council voted 29-5 in February to urge Register to comply with provisions outlined in the district’s labor negotiation policy, established in 2000, a document in which the MOU policy is written.
Nonetheless, Register indicated he would not retreat .
The best hope for SEIU, however, was for the school board — whose main job is to oversee the schools director — to demand Register change his stance.
Among other reasons, Porter, in her letter , said the school board doesn’t hold the authority to intervene in this way: “Tennessee law does not grant any authority for a school board to negotiate with any employee organization on behalf of support employees,” she wrote.
|Gracie Porter letter to Doug Collier.pdf ||1.43 MB|