Houston celebrates stronger employee voice in school district decisions with ‘elected consultation,’ but city once again wrestles with a weather disaster

Last week, the Houston Federation of Teachers was successful in shepherding a new policy through the school board that creates a new process for elected consultation—the system in which the district’s school employees vote in an election to designate one organization as the chief negotiator for employee workplace issues, salary proposals and other issues impacting instruction and students. 

HFT will now be seeking to be the elected consultation organization, and the union is overwhelmingly the largest organization representing Houston ISD employees. 

“We’ve seen consultation produce remarkable results in other districts, because it’s a highly-defined process for negotiating work-place issues,” said Zeph Capo, the Texas AFT president who is also serving as HFT president during a period of transition in the union’s leadership. “This is huge victory for employee voice, and it highlights the power of our union and the power in the work of all our members.” 

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Imelda’s torrential rains have caused serious turmoil for the district, which has seen flooded schools, students stranded at school from closed roads, and significant delays in bus transportation. Houston ISD is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey two years ago—a catastrophic storm that closed many schools and impacted the district’s efforts to meet state accountability standards. Houston ISD closed its schools Friday (while other districts closed a day earlier), spurring some criticism from the community about delaying a decision to close schools.