Common Questions: Work-to-Rule and other teacher actions
Recently the Folsom Cordova Education Association (FCEA), the employee union that represents the District’s roughly 1,000 teachers, directed its unit members to “work-to-rule” to protest the status of negotiations for a new contract with the District.
Many of our families, community members, and employees have questions about this action and others. See the answers to the most common below for more information:
What is “work-to-rule”?
The term “work-to-rule” refers to a protest in which employees refuse to perform any “voluntary” duties, which include many duties performed outside of a teacher’s contracted hours. An employee’s refusal to perform such voluntary duties is a protected activity. Conversely, “mandatory” duties must still be performed during a work-to-rule protest.
What is the difference between a “mandatory” and “voluntary” duty?
Whether a duty is mandatory or voluntary must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Generally, voluntary duties are those that an employee may engage, or not engage, in as they see fit. In past cases, the state has determined that duties such as extra period assignments and accepting student teachers are voluntary and may be rightfully refused, for example.
What duties are “mandatory” depends mostly on the teachers’ contract, the Education Code, and the parties’ past practices. Though it is impossible to draft a comprehensive list of mandatory duties, mandatory duties may include:
- Providing instructional services
- Submitting lesson plans
- Participating in teacher evaluations
- Participating in “in-service” trainings and staff development days
- Submitting progress reports, grades, and attendance reports
- Advising student clubs
- Scheduling/attending student disciplinary meetings
- Participating in emergency situations affecting the health/welfare of pupils or staff
- Being reasonably available to respond to parent and student questions
- Performing extra duty assignments
Can employees picket near my school?
Yes, employees have a free speech right to picket on public property adjacent to schools (for example, sidewalks, parks, etc.). Picketing may not, however, occur on school grounds.
Informational picketing designed to inform the public about a dispute is generally protected by the law. However, picketing or demonstrating is not permissible if it would threaten the safety of others, block facilities access, or otherwise interfere with District operations.
Can employees wear buttons, T-shirts, or similar items expressing support?
Generally, yes. However, when such items are disruptive to the learning environment, they may be restricted.
Can employees talk to students and/or families regarding labor negotiations?
The District cannot restrict employees from speaking to students or parents during non-working hours. However, employees may not speak with students or parents about negotiations while performing their duties.
Can FCEA members strike now?
No. The union cannot strike until the impasse process has been completed, at the earliest. TO learn more about the impasse process and what it entails, view our Impasse FAQ here.