National Staff Organization

United to Lead, to Promote, to Secure, and to Defend

United to Lead, to Promote, to Secure, and to Defend

In a major win against management’s direct dealing, the Washington Education Association Staff Organization (WEASO) prevailed in a recent arbitration that could build the foundation for future cases against management wrongdoing. 

In 2019, the Washington Education Association (WEA) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with an employee due to his purported “extraordinary workload.” The MOA afforded this one employee additional compensation and paid time off (PTO) in his final years of employment with WEA.     

Elizabeth Collins, WEASO Vice President for Advocacy, discovered this direct dealing through an information request in early 2022 and immediately reached out to representatives of the National Staff Organization (NSO), who provide assistance with grievances, and found a partner in NSO At-Large Director Justin Zartman.   

As the parties were unable settle the matter, the case proceeded through the grievance process to arbitration, with WEASO being represented at the hearing by Zartman. 

WEA argued that this employee was a “unicorn” who deserved the additional compensation and PTO because he was doing the job of two technical positions as one position was vacant.   

WEASO provided testimony demonstrating all WEASO members were experiencing an extraordinary workload during that time due to several factors, including a recent boom in school funding, WEA’s self-imposed hiring freeze, and the election season. 

Additionally demonstrated by WEASO was that no concrete evidence of this employee’s extraordinary workload was presented by management and that numerous other employees were doing the work of the vacant position.   

Perhaps most alarmingly, WEASO proved that the MOA was hidden from the staff union – a blatant and egregious example of direct dealing that goes against WEA’s own purported principles as a labor union and ignored the collective bargaining agreement. 

The arbitrator agreed, and in her opinion, wrote, “I agree with WEASO that the nature of the contract violation is a serious one. It is antithetical to the fundamental purposes of WEA.” As a result of the decision, over 90 WEASO members may be eligible for similar supplemental compensation and benefits as provided in WEA’s illegal MOA. 

“We provided a great deal of evidence how WEASO members work hard every day to represent WEA members and make WEA look good,” said Zartman, “I’m thrilled the arbitrator saw through WEA’s specious arguments and issued a sweeping remedy.”  

“WEA management attempted to place extra value on the work of one employee,” Collins added, “WEASO was there to remind WEA of the basic principles of labor relations and ensure all WEASO members are equally compensated for their work on behalf of WEA members.  At the end of the day, WEA management learned a $1 million lesson.”

April 6, 2023
By: Justin Zartman, NSO At-Large Director