Columbia’s teachers union won a major victory Thursday when a Boone County judge issued a preliminary injunction that allows the union to remain the exclusive bargaining representative for Columbia Public Schools educators, for the time being.
Thirteenth Circuit Judge Jodie Asel issued the injunction a week after denying the district’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the union to continue as district teachers' exclusive bargaining unit.
The union’s lawsuit, filed in April, states the school district bargained in bad faith and violated constitutional rights of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association when it demanded the union gain certification credentials required under a new state law.
The law, House Bill 1413, requires all exclusive bargaining units to be certified by the State Board of Mediation — a requirement CMNEA does not have. The deadline for districts to gain certification is Sunday.
The Catch-22, as Asel described it, emerged in March when a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge barred the board from carrying out HB 1413.
As a result, without the preliminary injunction, the union would have lost its status as the recognized representative of Columbia public school teachers after the June 30 deadline.
The union will remain the exclusive bargaining representative of the district’s teachers until either the State Board of Mediation regains its credential powers or the Missouri Supreme Court makes a final judgment in the St. Louis Circuit Court Case — whichever happens first.
CMNEA President Kathy Steinhoff said in a statement that the union, which has been the bargaining representative for CPS teachers since 2012, looks forward to returning to negotiations.
"Columbia Public Schools has chosen to act out of the mainstream by becoming a standard bearer for this anti-union legislation,” Steinhoff said. “The district's efforts to restrict teachers is distracting from what matters most — our students.”
In April, the Columbia School Board approved a compensation plan that includes a salary increase for district teachers next year. CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in a statement that the lawsuit will have no retroactive effect on items that have already been negotiated.
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.