The Teamsters union, which has petitioned to represent 2,300 District school service workers, filed suit yesterday seeking to stop the school board from taking action on a tentative labor contract negotiated by the employes' present union.
A hearing on the suit, which was filed by two local Teamster affiliates, has been scheduled for Monday morning, said a spokeswoman at D.C. Superior Court.
The Teamsters allege in the suit that a majority of the workers at a July 10 meeting rejected by a voice vote the contract agreed to by the present union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and school officials.
School labor representative Kenneth Nichols said in an interview, "All we know is what the union tells us. They said the contract was ratified by the members."
George Bispham, chairman of the AFSCME local representing the workers, was not available for comment, a spokeswoman said.
Teamsters Local 639 and Local 730 and several members of the AFSCME local asked the court to issue a temporary injunction to prevent the school board from opening public hearings on the contract that were scheduled to begin on Monday.
The lawsuit states, "By disregarding and misrepresenting the result of the . . . ratification vote, AFSCME has breached its contract . . . . The school board may not act upon a tentative agreement until it has been ratified by the labor organization."
By scheduling a public hearing on the proposed contract, the board "has violated its own rules and regulations," the suit states.
Teamsters officials said at a news conference yesterday that they recently filed with the city's Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) petitions containing 1,300 signatures and asking for an election to determine whether AFSME or the Teamsters would represent the school employes.
A PERB spokesman said that under the agency's rules 30 percent of the union members must sign the petitions asking for new union represention. The agency, according to its rules, is now checking the petitions to see if they contain the required number of valid signatures, the spokesman said. The board is expected to issue a decision on the petitions next month, he said.