Teachers Union in Douglas County Files Complaint With the State

The Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCF) has filed a formal complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in response to their inability to reach an agreement on collective bargaining rights with the local Douglas County School District.

According to a letter sent out to members yesterday, union President Brenda Smith said she was “saddened and disappointed with the actions and decisions of the current Douglas County School Board and District Administration.” The parties have until the end of the month to reach an agreement on the specific role and authority the DCF union will hold in the county.

In 2009, voters elected a reform-oriented school board. Since then, the DCF has been fighting to retain control over teachers and education in Douglas County. A central debate has sprung up around five union members that are on the school district’s payroll for the purpose of allowing benefits as well as county paid pensions after retirement, according to Karin Piper of Parent Led Reform. The School Board has worked to put an end to these payouts among other union demands.

In December, the Denver Post found that Douglas County’s Federation of Teachers, which is an arm of the American Federation of Teachers, “costs taxpayers the most: $1.3 million since 2007.” The Post continued noting, “the majority of that money went to employees who aren’t even covered in the union contract.”

Now, after months of negotiations, the teachers union has called it quits well before the June 30th deadline.  Since an agreement at the county level has yet to be made that favors union leadership, DCF has threatened to sue in addition to taking their case to the state level.

These moves are typically taken in the case of “bad faith negotiations” and are usually filed after the deadline is past, neither of which have taken place in Douglas County yet. Instead, the DCF has chosen to elect the Labor Commission to grant the right to veto local control in Colorado education.

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