OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — More than a year after teachers in the Deerfield, Kan., school district voted to leave their union, leaders say the doom-and-gloom predictions from the state’s largest teachers union haven’t come to pass.
“Things are going pretty well, actually,” said Doug Crandall, a teacher who also is president of the newly revived Deerfield Educators Association.
In May 2013, faculty in Deerfield Unified School District 216 voted to decertify KNEA, meaning the union no longer could negotiate with local board of education members on teachers’ behalf. At the time, Pamela Torgerson, director of Southwest UniServ, the district headquarters for KNEA, said the decision could turn out badly.
“My concern with that is that without any kind of organizational backing, it’s going to be hard for the teachers there to enforce their negotiated agreement,” Torgerson said. “So, if they get into trouble during bargaining, they have to go to mediation on their own. And if things work out even worse and they decide to go to fact-finding, they’re pretty much on their own.”
If anything, Crandall said, the opposite has happened. Negotiations prior to the current school year were smooth and uneventful, he said. The rocky part, he said, has been KNEA’s response following its expulsion from Deerfield USD 216.
“I was a member of KNEA for 27 years and the president of our local association here for over 15 years, and I did not see how they manipulate statements and try to ‘bully’ others that oppose them until after I helped us to decertify,” Crandall said. “They’re trying to tell some of our younger teachers they need to be scared, especially now with the new tenure rule, and it’s got some of our new teachers antsy.”
So antsy, he said, that he has heard KNEA is filing paperwork to have Deerfield faculty re-vote on the union’s decertified status.
Union representatives didn’t respond to calls for comment.