INSTITUTIONAL EMPLOYEE VOICE (IEV)
It is a constitutional provision of the Texas AFT to advance the rights of workers and to solidify our union’s voice by winning collective bargaining. Under Texas law, collective bargaining for public employees is prohibited; however, our Texas AFT leaders have created a multi-year plan to expand organizing endeavors to build the necessary power to change state law. Together, we are building our capacity to meet the expectations of the mission of our union.
The following three pathways are our union’s focus to achieve what we call “Institutional Employee Voice.” Our work is centered on establishing labor management relationships that make our union a central part of the decision-making process—no matter a change in union leadership and/or administration of the employer. Formulizing a legitimate framework that empowers employees is achievable, and this is the fundamental work of our union.
This form of employee voice is the most common. Typically, our union is called upon to meet with administrative officials to discuss issues. Meetings with administration may also include representatives from other employee organizations. This model may be easily manipulated by administration and organizations are sometimes pitted against each other. However, these informal meetings are a start to a longer process of advancing employee proposals.
Elected consultation is a powerful process of collective action that can transform public school institutions and build strong benefits and working conditions for employees. This process allows an employee organization to build strong relationships with elected trustees on behalf of students. Elected consultation allows employees to elect one organization to speak for them regarding policy proposals. This form of employee voice provides high levels of accountability, a clear voice, and collaboration. This process requires our union to be politically active and highly engaged with all workers no matter their membership status.
Collective bargaining is a means by which employees—represented by a labor organization—can directly negotiate a legally binding contract with the employer that governs their work for a specific period of time. This form of employee voices gives workers a guaranteed opportunity to secure a legal contract outlining wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unfortunately, Texas does not yet have collective bargaining; however, there are exceptions for some police, firefighters, and city workers. A change in state law would be required to win collective bargaining rights, and a long term plan to reshape the Texas Legislature is needed. Until collective bargaining is achieved, our union advocates that elected consultation policies be won. While elected consultation is not a collective bargaining agreement, it is an official process. We view this as a first step towards ultimately winning collective bargaining.