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Tossed unions rally for support

Members of PACT and PASS, the unions that used to represent teachers and support staff in the Pulaski County Special School District, rallied on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol protesting their de-certification.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Members of PACT and PASS, the unions that used to represent teachers and support staff in the Pulaski County Special School District, rallied on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol protesting their de-certification.

Both unions are currently suing the district to regain recognition. They filed lawsuits on May 5.

The unions want to get the word out to taxpayers that they don't agree with what the state-controlled district is doing with your money.

"PACT, PASS united! PACT, PASS united! And, we also want to tell Tom and Jerry, enough is enough!" yelled PACT member Brenda Robinson.

PACT and PASS members believe Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell exceeded his authority when he told PCSSD Superintendent Doctor Jerry Guess to decertify their unions last month.

"This is diversity. We could teach the Central Office a lesson on diversity," says PACT President Marty Nix.

"They walked away from the table. So it never was about being fair. It was about the destruction of a union," said State Senator Linda Chesterfield.

So Saturday, union members joined forces with taxpayers and politicians to get their message out.

"Let's go back to the table and work together and cooperatively come up with a plan that is fair to all," said Nix.

With a more than 13-million dollar budget deficit projected for the coming school year, the district cut 4-million dollars in benefits to workers.

PACT's Brenda Robinson wore bandages Saturday to protest the two days of salary she's losing.

"If they increase the class size, you know, it's gonna be chaotic," she says.

The sixth grade teacher says larger class sizes cause problems, which she says won't attract quality teachers.

"The public does think that teachers make too much money, however, I'm here to tell you that we don't. A beginning salary of a first year teacher is around 35-thousand dollars here in the state of Arkansas," says Robinson.

The teachers say since their contract didn't expire until 2015, they were not asking for a raise and want negotiate again.

"We just want to work with the district. Let's get the district turned back around. The taxpayers, I believe, will get that going," says Nix.

17,000 students go to PCSSD schools.

Financial problems forced the state to take over the district last year.

On May 5, FOX16 contacted PCSSD leaders who said they hadn't been notified about the lawsuit.
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