19 Years of Advocacy Subjected To an Anti-union Smear Campaign

If you tell a lie long enough it begins to take on its own li(e)fe. Sadly, this explains the recent “controversy” over the APS/ATF Career Pathway System addressed at the June 16th executive session of the APS Board of Education.   For the past few years, a counselor who has not yet deigned to join their union has spewed misinformation and outright lies that call into question the integrity of our union, our leaders, and the Career Pathway System (CPS) portfolio program. The CPS program has enabled our union to negotiate hundreds of thousands of dollars in raises for Essential & Related Services Educators (E & RSEs). This nonmember has been aided and abetted by an APS administrator who has taken it upon herself to dabble in old-fashioned union busting. Together, they have indulged in nothing short of prohibited practices (coercive and collusive actions), that directly violate our APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement and the NM Public Employees Bargaining Act by spreading their blatant fabrications to APS counselors at in-services, staff meetings or pretty much any time they catch a counselor standing still. The two have influenced a small group of counselors to join them in repeating these lies year after year, creating distrust of the portfolio program among some members of this role group. The sole intent of the perpetrators has been to erode confidence in a system that’s been in place for 14 years and has ensured that every Counselor, Social Worker, Nurse, Interpreter, SLP, OT, PT, Audiologist, and other E & RSEs received raises and a pay scale commensurate to their colleagues who work as classroom teachers. ATF and APS negotiated the CPS portfolio because pay for E & RSEs was lagging behind teachers who received regular pay increases through the state’s 3-Tier system and to develop rigorous reflective professional development for the related services providers. Although adding E & RSEs to the 3-Tier pay scale may seem like a no-brainer, for years it has been a nonstarter in Santa Fe. This has caused division in the ranks of educators that has been exacerbated by legislative language that often calls for a larger annual raise percentage for “teachers” than the percent approved for “all educators”. The CPS was created to address these inequities. Furthermore, ATF went to impasse in negotiations with APS to collectively fight for equal pay so that all E & RSEs receive raises equivalent to those given teachers. If you’re not familiar with impasse, this means that ATF teachers refused to take raises or continue negotiations with APS until their E & RSE colleagues received equal treatment—an injustice to one is an injustice to all! ATF President Dr. Ellen Bernstein and APS Labor Relations Director Dr. Valerie Hoose addressed the Board through a joint presentation using both quantitative and qualitative data to disprove the falsehoods spewed by these provocateurs. The lies range from claims that ATF members receive passing scores while nonmembers fail all the way to accusations that ATF profits from the CPS portfolio program. The latter claim is laughable when one examines the financial impact the program has had on our union’s meager budget (financial statements are included in the presentation). You can view the full presentation here. While President Bernstein dispelled the lies, she also gave the Board earnest explanations about why some applicants struggled to pass the CPS. These included failure to follow directions, lack of addressing the prompts, and absence of concrete examples of how their work impacted students’ learning. Ellen offered suggestions on how the district and our union might change the system to enhance confidence while preserving the program and its high standards. She asked APS to sponsor or co-sponsor CPS overview sessions and to train Human Resources staff as portfolio readers. Finally, she offered to set up special informational sessions for counselors in partnership with APS.

To be required to defend a proven program that is slandered by only a few people with bad intentions is a tiresome task. There is so much important work that our union needs to focus on.

To be required to defend a proven program that is slandered by only a few people with bad intentions is a tiresome task. There is so much important work that our union needs to focus on. The underlying basis for the CPS is that ATF is your progressive, professional union. We seek to elevate the education profession and raise standards while defending educators’ contractual rights and need for professional pay. Our union has consistently fought for our members; fought for funding for APS; presented respectfully and truthfully to the Board of Education; worked in good faith with APS departments and leaders. This month we fought for our integrity. A lie retold is still a lie.

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