EvCC, teachers union settle legal dispute

EVERETT — After four years, a legal battle has ended between Everett Community College and the teachers union.

The college spent about $300,000 in back pay, benefits and interest to four college counselors who lost their jobs in 2010. The college also offered the counselors their jobs back, and two have accepted. They start Monday, according to the union’s attorney, Jon Rosen of Seattle.

Rosen called the outcome “a really good win for working people.”

“It was a long battle, and hopefully everyone is the better and the wiser for it,” he said.

A state labor-management board and a Snohomish County Superior Court judge previously ruled that the college improperly reassigned work usually done by union members to nonunion employees, without giving the union the chance to negotiate the changes.

Around the same time, the union counselors lost their jobs and the college created nonunion “education planner” positions that performed too-similar duties, according to the previous rulings.

The college in 2013 asked the state Court of Appeals to review the lower-court ruling.

The appeals court dismissed the case on Aug. 27 at the college’s request.

The college needed time to make the previously ordered changes without disrupting students, spokeswoman Katherine Schiffner said.

“Filing the appeal gave us time to make a plan and move forward with other ways to advise new students,” she said.

The five education planner positions were eliminated, and those employees moved to other jobs earlier this month, Schiffner said.

The union argued that the education planners were performing work that should be performed by counselors under the labor contracts. The college had argued in court that education planners and counselors were different jobs with different tasks.

The union was awarded $55,000 in attorneys’ fees for the lower-court case, Rosen said.

The American Federation of Teachers union represents about 350 instructors, counselors and librarians at EvCC.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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