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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Crookston School Board: ECFE in the CEA? The debate continues

  • Brekken says bargaining unit has yet to present written document
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  •     The topic of communication between the Crookston Education Association and Early Childhood Family Education teaching staff came up again at Monday night's Crookston School Board meeting. Board member Robin Brekken said he received a letter from Gary Lee, associate director of management services with the Minnesota School Board Association clarifying that the CEA should have presented a written document of their request for ECFE staff to pay a "fair share" due to a collective bargaining unit.     
        During a Nov. 25 board meeting, Brekken expressed concerns over attempts to remove him from the negotiations process with the CEA because his wife, Karen, is a part-time ECFE teacher in the district. The ECFE staff is not in the CEA, but Brekken said his wife was sent an email by CEA President Kim Davidson saying ECFE staff had to be members of the collective bargaining unit, which requires them to pay a "fair share" due since they are public employees.    
        Board member Dave Davidson mentioned the statute change from 2005 with the Public Employment Labor Relations Act and said, "We didn't realize implications until recently. ECFE needs to be represented by a union bargain."  
        ECFE staff member Brigette Burzette-DeLeon, in attendance Monday, told the board from the podium that "none of us want to be a part of this or change what we have right now." She said she hopes the ECFE staff are not going to be forced into representation.    
        A visiting taxpayer, Chris Cournia, also stood up to voice support for Brekken speaking up about teacher compensation and benefits and said he was "disappointed Mr. (Daniel) Wolpert wasn't here if he's going to make accusations." (In response to Brekken's Nov. 25 comments, Wolpert, who blogs at crookstontimes.com, posted an entry on the subject, to which Brekken responded with a letter to the editor on Dec. 6. On Dec. 9, Wolpert posted a follow-up blog entry at crookstontimes.com.)

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