AFT St. Louis Local 420 files Unfair Labor Practices complaint against KIPP St. Louis

National Right to Work Foundation files motion for union decertification vote


TEACHERS AND SUPPORT STAFF at School took to the picket line April 19, and again on April 29, demanding a first contract that includes basic union protections including job protects and a fair grievance procedure. Represented by St. Louis American Federation of Teachers Local 420, teachers and staff have been at the bargaining table for more than a year. – Labor Tribune file photo

St. Louis – The American Federation of Teachers (AFT St. Louis) Local 420 has filed an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against KIPP St. Louis High School as teachers and staff have bargained for more than a year for a first contract.

Shortly after the Unfair Labor Practices complaint was filed on April 23, the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc., based in West Virginia, filed for a union decertification vote in what one union spokesman described as a “ham fisted” response on behalf of KIPP. The vote is scheduled to take place tomorrow, May 17.

That seems to be a pattern with KIPP. On May 7, the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation filed for another union decertification vote against the union at KIPP New York City.

According to the Unfair Labor Practice charges, since November 2024, KIPP “has failed and refused to bargain collectively with the representatives of its employees, AFT Local 420, regarding wages, hours, tenure and other terms and conditions of employment and has discriminated in regard to terms and conditions of employment to discourage membership in a labor organization, namely, AFT Local 420 by engaging in a pattern of surface bargaining, communicating directly with employees regarding conditions of employment without communicating with AFT Local 420 prior to doings so; by implementing terms and conditions of employment unilaterally; and granting wage increases to its unrepresented employees at schools in St. Louis, other than the high school and announcing the same to the employees represented by AFT Local 420, but not granting those same increases to employees represented by the union thereby discriminating against its employees by reason of their union membership.”

“For more than a year our union has worked to try and bargain a contract with KIPP,” said Local 420 President Ray Cummings. “During that year KIPP has done all it can to avoid reaching an agreement while pretending to bargain.”

In a recent email to members, Cummings urged: “Let them know you won’t go back!”

Local 420 reached agreement on KIPP’s proposals for salary and benefits but has been holding out for clauses related to job protections and grievance procedures.

Frustrated by KIPP’s intransigence and eager to reach a first contract, Local 420 in recent negotiations offered to withdraw all its open proposals and to accept all of KIPP’s open proposals, if KIPP would agree to clauses related to job protections and grievance procedures, agreeing not to fire teachers or staff without just cause and allow teachers and staff a final and binding grievance procedure ending with a neutral third party deciding the grievance rather than KIPP administrators. KIPP rejected the offer.

When KIPP made clear it would never agree to a contract and that since teachers and staff had chosen a union they would not get a raise that everyone else received, Local 420 filed the Unfair Labor Practices complaint with the NLRB.

Federal law protects union employees from being discriminated against because they chose a union or engage in activities like KIPP’s unionized employees did during two recent one-day strikes.

Cummings said Garrett Kelly (executive director of KIPP St. Louis) and KIPP want to go back to the days when they could treat employees as they pleased and not have to answer to their union.

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