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State Board Says Clovis Unified Violated Labor Laws, Must Disband Faculty Senate
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 21, 2024

A PERB cease and desist order requires Clovis Unified to end all support for the Faculty Senate. (GV Wire)

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The Public Employment Relations Board issued a ruling Thursday that Clovis Unified School District has violated state labor laws when it provided support to and exercised control over the Faculty Senate in an effort to stymie efforts by teachers to organize their own union.

The ruling requires the district to “disestablish” the Faculty Senate, an organization created by and recognized by the district as the teachers’ labor representative. Disestablishment means that the district can no longer provide financial support to the Faculty Senate.

And, according to Kristin Heimerdinger, a Buchanan teacher and spokeswoman for the Association of Clovis Educators, or ACE, the district cannot recognize the Faculty Senate on any matters related to teacher working conditions, and must not include them in meetings or provide them any info.

Clovis Unified did not immediately provide comment Friday morning. District spokeswoman Kelly Avants provided a statement later Friday morning that she said had been sent to employees by Barry Jager, associate superintendent of human resources and employee relations:

“The District received notification at the end of the workday Thursday that PERB had issued its ruling in the appeal of a 2020 complaint involving Clovis Unified teachers’ long-time self-representation through Faculty Senate. We are still looking through the details of that ruling to better understand its implications for the District and our employees’ self-representation. After that analysis, and consideration of the changes already made over the past several years in the way the District interacts with Faculty Senate, we will determine whether or not an appeal to this ruling is appropriate. Regardless of the eventual outcome of this case, our administration remains committed to supporting and valuing every single one of our employees and will always respect their decisions about how they want their voices.”

Heimerdinger said union officials were “incredibly satisfied” with the PERB decision.

Organizing Efforts Started in 2021

ACE has been trying to organize teachers since April 2021 and filed multiple unfair labor practice charges with PERB against the district, claiming that the district’s support of the Faculty Senate was blocking the union’s organizing efforts.

A subset of the district’s certificated employees, the school psychologists and mental health service professionals, collected enough signatures for union representation in July 2021, the first time in the district’s history that any certificated employees were union-represented.

Unions represent several other Clovis Unified employee groups, but the district’s traditions espoused by founding Superintendent Floyd “Doc” Buchanan of being union-free discouraged teachers from unionizing in the past.

The unfair labor charges against the district, Faculty Senate, and the Clovis Teachers Organization, which ACE contends was intended as a successor to the Faculty Senate, were rolled together into one case. An initial ruling by the chief administrative law judge last December found that the district had violated labor laws and ordered it to stop interfering with ACE’s organizing efforts.

Appeal Has Harsher Penalties

That ruling was appealed by ACE, and Thursday’s ruling goes a step forward by ordering disestablishment, which prevents the district from providing financial support, office space, and other means of support to the Faculty Senate.

The order requires the district to remove all traces from schools, websites, postings, and documents any reference to what has become known as the portion of “Doc’s Charge” that states “professionals who work in our district are proud that we do not have collective bargaining.”

The order also requires Superintendent Corrine Folmer to make a video reading the PERB cease and desist order, for the video to be played at in-person teacher meetings, and for the order to be posted at school sites.

Heimerdinger said ACE is continuing to collect teachers’ signatures, which is necessary to win recognition as the teachers’ labor representative.

The PERB decision could be a factor in convincing more teachers to sign up, she said Friday morning.

“Teachers are definitely going to have to make a decision about what type of representation they want,” she said. “And now the Faculty Senate is out of the picture, teachers will not be able to rely on Faculty Senate as their support. And it’s not reasonable that there would be 2,000 of us without any representation. So, yes, we’re very hopeful that this will force teachers now into making a decision about what they want their representation to look like.”

CTA’s Support of ACE

Disestablishment does not mean dissolution of the Faculty Senate, however, the PERB decision said.

But Heimerdinger said she doubts other groups attempting to represent teachers will have access to the same resources that ACE has through its affiliation with the California Teachers Association.

“I’m sure there are people who feel strongly that teachers in Clovis don’t need to be represented by a union,” she said. “But I think the question is, do they want to put in the time to provide that representation? And then more importantly, what access to resources do they have to be able to represent teachers well?

“And that’s where every other group is going to fall short, because nobody besides CTA has the ability to really look at a district’s budget and understand what’s going on. Nobody besides CTA has access to attorneys who specialize in Ed Code. Nobody but CTA has people lobbying at the state level for money to go to education. So CTA has a long history of advocating for students and teachers and for being experts in that realm. And Clovis educators deserve nothing less than access to that expertise.”

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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