The Fairfax County teachers' organization voted unanimously last night to continue a "work-to-the-rule" job action begun last April to protest provisions of a new contract, including pay.
About 1,500 of the 6,500 members of the Fairfax Education Association attended the meeting in the Robinson Secondary School gymnasium at which the organization also voted to escalate its protest if there is no progress in talks with school officials in the next few months.
Teachers participating in the job action perform only work for which they are paid, and decline to volunteer for extracurricular activities. However, the organization urged its members to comply if principals order them to perform extracurricular activities.
The action could considerably curtail clubs and other activities that form at the beginning of the school year and depend upon teachers as sponsors.
Association president Gerry Gripper told the teachers that the first two weeks of school, which begins Sept. 4, will be crucial.
"That's when all those 'wouldjas' (would you) come out of the woodwork. Would you do this? Would you do that? Deny the 'wouldjas.' Don't volunteer," he said. "But if mandated, do what you're asked. Don't let yourself be caught in an insubordinate position."
If talks with school administrators fail to yield concessions, the organization announced it plans to step up the job action with one or more of the following:
Make a legal challenge to a contract clause that allows principals to force teachers to perform extracurricular activities.
Form a coalition with other Fairfax public employe groups to extend the work-to-the-rule action beyond the schools.
Coordinate a regional work-to-the-rule action with teachers' groups in other Northern Virginia jurisdictions.
Refuse to accept contracts for work in paid extracurricular activities, such as coaching, or work on the year book or drama club.
Coordinate an economic boycott of businesses that express disapproval of the teachers' action.
Gloria Thorpe Johnson, spokeswoman for the teachers' negotiating team, said the school superintendent's representatives have agreed to try to find a new firm to handle long-term disability insurance and that the administration agreed to review training programs for teachers.
But she said there has been no progress in talks on salaries, sick leave, retirement, teaching conditions and other items. Last spring, teachers demanded 9.4 percent pay raises but got only 5.15 percent from the school board, which was under severe budget pressure from the County Board of Supervisors.
Association leaders also urged the teachers to support candidates endorsed by their organizations in the forthcoming elections for board of supervisors and Congress. Gripper urged them to vote against Board Chairman John T. Herrity (R), Annandale Supervisor Audrey Moore (D), and Springfield Supervisor Marie B. Travesky (R).
Acting School Superintendent William J. Burkholder said he was disappointed with the teachers' decision to continue their job action. He said he expects that teachers will be required to aid only those extracurricular activities closely related to the instructional program, and that in some cases schools may call on volunteers from the communities to sponsor clubs.