Unfair labor practice complaint issued against LCC faculty union regarding Cisse
According to a press release from LCC, PERB issued an Unfair Practice Complaint against the Lassen College Faculty Association, the labor organization representing the faculty at Lassen Community College District, on Feb. 26.
The complaint alleges that in late February and early March of 2006, the union engaged in unfair labor practices when senior leaders of the union threatened non-faculty employees and retaliated against a non-faculty employee for refusing to sign or support a letter to the LCC Board of Trustees. The union was advocating Cissell’s removal as LCC president.
The complaint was a result of an unfair practice charge filed against the union by the LCC district on Aug. 26, 2006. The district filed the charge to protect its employees from discrimination and retaliation by the union in the workplace.
“It is not with any joy that the district has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the faculty union,” Cissell said, “but protecting our employees from inappropriate activities is our responsibility.”
The president said as an employer, the district cannot allow or condone such threatening and coercive behavior on the part of the union or its members against other district employees who happen to disagree with the union or who lawfully exercise their right not to participate in such activities if they so choose.
According to the press release from LCC, PERB has held that, in the interests of maintaining a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere that is conducive to learning and instruction, the district is not only entitled, but obligated to take action to protect its employees when they are subjected to such unlawful threats, coercion or intimidation.
The LCC district has requested that PERB order the union and its members to cease and desist from threatening and retaliating against employees who exercise their right to oppose or not participate in the activities advocated by the union as well as any other relief that will effectuate the protections of the Education Employee Rights Act.
Although no date has been currently set, a hearing before PERB will be held in the future to determine what remedies, if any, should be imposed on the union if the allegations in the complaint are proven.
“I believe the press release is self-explanatory,” said LCC Board of Trustees President Chris Click. “I'm gratified that PERB will be making an objective determination about the issues that arose a year ago and look forward to its resolution of them.”
John Kohn, a staff attorney with the California Teacher’s Association, said LCFA is the local bargaining unit at LCC. LCFA is affiliated with CTA, and Kohn responded to the college’s allegations.
“The PERB has issued a very narrow complaint based on allegations from the college,” Kohn said. “PERB investigates all allegations, and they have to take as true the allegations filed by an employer. It’s important to realize these are just allegations. They are not true. We have not had an opportunity to appear before a judge, and when we do, we’re very confident we can prove the allegations are not true.”
According to Kohn, the college’s allegations are based on three instances regarding one employee who no longer works at the college.
Kohn also noted a number of the college’s allegations already have been dismissed by PERB because they “did not meet the threshold.”
While the college alleges a union member took inappropriate action against an employee who refused to sign a letter, Kohn said, “That’s simply not the fact, and we will certainly prove these allegations are not true. Remember, these are simply unproven allegations.”
According to Kohn the college and LCFA will meet in Sacramento on March 22 in an informal settlement conference designed to give the parties an opportunity to resolve the issue before going to court.
If the two sides can’t resolve the issues, the case will be set for trial, probably in the late spring. Kohn estimated the trial would probably last about two days.
The newspaper covered the story when it broke nearly a year ago in its March 7, 2006 issue.
According to a press release sent last year by Alan Frey, representative of the California Teacher's Association, "Concerned faculty and students at Lassen College signed a letter of no confidence in the president of the college, Homer Cissell."
The letter was signed by several faculty members, union representatives and students and sent to Board President Rocky Deal after Cissell allegedly terminated the Dean of Instruction position on Friday, Feb. 24.
Frey stated the alleged termination, combined with the recent home reassignment of Chief Financial Officer John Nahlen and turmoil at the college left Cissell's ability to lead the institution "questionable."
The letter also states, "Cissell has not demonstrated any ability to lead this institution. He has now removed the effective leadership of the two deans from the campus. With Dr. Cissell's irrational actions, the instructional component has been crippled."
Cissell said the accusations are completely false, and no action has been taken against any administrator.
He explained personnel issues and discussions are private matters and publicly making false accusations about unknown situations is completely unprofessional.
Because personnel issues can only be discussed in closed session during a board meeting, the releasing of names or grievances to the public is severely illegal.
If, however, the board of trustees chooses to take action against a particular faculty member or administrator, it must be publicly reported immediately following the closed session.
Today, a year later, Nahlen no longer works at LCC, but Dr. Karen Grosz remains as dean of instruction, and Cissell remains as the college president, despite the letter from the union.
For more information on the complaint, call Cissell at 251-8861.
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