Hundreds Rally to Support Ogden Teachers


Sign or resign. That was the message from the Ogden City School District Board of Education for teachers who were required to sign a contract into which they had no input and that they did not understand.

From the moment UEA staff and leaders learned of Board’s hostile ploy, they began working on solutions for Ogden’s teachers. Legal teams from the UEA and NEA considered alternatives to what was described as a “perfect storm” of events leading to the situation.

“In consultation with NEA, the UEA legal team considered many alternatives,” said UEA Legal Counsel Tracey Watson. “Ultimately we determined pursuing legal action right away was not in the best interest of the teachers.”

Nearly 1,000 people gathered in Ogden’s Liberty Park July 14 to support Ogden teachers in their fight against the Ogden Board of Education’s decision to not negotiate a contract with its teachers.

Ogden teachers were joined at the rally by colleagues from across the state who came to support their fellow teachers. Members of several other public and private employee unions, legislators, school board members from other districts, administrators, and Ogden parents also stood alongside educators to support the rights of employees to collectively bargain.

“The Board is demanding (Ogden teachers) sign a contract that has more than 100 changes from previous contracts and has given us less than 20 days to do it or we lose our jobs,” said Ogden Education Association President Doug Stephens. “This is wrong.”

“I do not believe that the members of the Ogden School Board are evil. Their actions, however, are misguided,” said former Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Donald Thomas in remarks to rally participants. “(Ogden Board members) have received some bad advice. What they have done is a violation of professional ethics and an attempt to break the spirit of its teachers. It will not work and it cannot stand.” (See Thomas' complete remarks.)

Attending the rally from Oklahoma City, National Education Association Executive Committee member Greg Johnson said, “Unfortunately, the (Ogden school board) seems to be taking a page out of the playbook we have seen in other places around the country this year. They are trying to strip away the right of teachers to negotiate for fair contracts. That’s what this dispute is all about.” (See Johnson's complete remarks.)

“We are calling for a renewed commitment on the part of the Ogden Board of Education to get to the negotiation table in the spirit of collaboration and good faith,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Teachers are not the problem, we are the solution and we will continue to stand strong for our students, our public schools, and our profession.” (See Gallagher-Fishbaugh's complete remarks.)

Near the end of the rally, Stephens asked those teachers who had questions about the new board-imposed contracts to raise their hands. Hundreds of hands went up. Stephens then asked teachers to follow him on the block-long walk to the Ogden School District Offices, where he submitted a list of about 100 questions to the district administration. Teachers hope to have their questions answered prior to the July 20 contract deadline set by the Ogden Board.

Those attending the rally were encouraged to sign an Ogden School District “Petition for Collaboration.” The petition calls on the Ogden Board of Education to “recognize it must work collaboratively with all impacted parties to create conditions that will attract and retain quality teachers, provide adequate working conditions, and benefit all Ogden’s public school employees and students.”

News Stories:

Ogden teachers, other unions rally for collective bargaining 07/15/2011
(Salt Lake Tribune) Wearing red T-shirts and waving black-and-white signs, an estimated 800 people rallied in Ogden’s Liberty Park on Thursday to protest the city school district’s decision to not negotiate a contract with its teachers union.

Ogden Teachers Rally For Wage Negotiations 07/15/2011
(KUTV-2 News) Last fall, the Ogden Board of Education and the Ogden Education Association (OEA) reached an impasse in 2010-11 contract negotiations for wages, benefits and working conditions.

Ogden teachers furious over pay raises 07/15/2011
(ABC-4 TV) Teachers from multiple school districts were holding signs reading, teachers are not the problem, and there are two sides to a contract.

Ogden teachers rally over contract ultimatum 07/15/2011
(Standard-Examiner) District teachers, with their representatives and supporters wearing red T-shirts to show solidarity, on Thursday rallied at Liberty Park, then walked along Monroe Boulevard to district offices to express righteous indignation with a new Ogden School District teachers’ contract.

Ogden teachers attack new contracts with rally 07/15/2011
(KSL-TV) "I put in 20 years in this district, taught thousands of kids, made it my life, given all that I've had to make them better, and I got kicked in the face for it," Ogden Education Association President Doug Stephens told the men, women and children gathered.

Hundreds rally against new Ogden teacher contracts 07/15/2011
(Deseret News) Hundreds of teachers gathered Thursday to rally against the Ogden School Board's decision to draw up a contract without teacher input.


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