Group at Agana Heights Elementary forms GUPPE - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Group at Agana Heights Elementary forms GUPPE

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Earlier this week we told you about a group of teachers banding together in Agana Heights. KUAM News sought out the reason for a new union and what they hope the future will hold.

Teachers and staff at Agana Heights Elementary School have decided as a group that they want to be a collective voice. Through the Guam Union of Professional Public Employees (GUPPE). "It is something that has been percolating at Agana Heights for some time now back in January toward the end of January a large number of employees showed interest in forming their own union for collective bargaining for Agana Heights only," explained Attorney Daniel Somerfleck.

As we reported authorization cards from 93% of the school's employees in support of GUPPE as their exclusive bargaining representative. "There are improvements that need to be made in all the schools unless the community of the school comes together and starts seeking those improvements many of them don't occur," he said.

Referring to the successful efforts made by John F. Kennedy High School, Sommerfleck says that schools as a unit need to start standing up to say "here's what we need to make our schools the best it can be" adding that is where Agana Heights is taking the lead in wanting to work with management to improve their school." Somerfleck said, "It is not just an issue of there was a lot of dissatisfaction with GFT but it is also an issue of we want to start working in a different way we want to start working in a way that focuses on the interest of the students the interest teachers and the interest of the management."

Working forward in a positive way, GUPPE aims at addressing concerns in a way that GFT could not. "The first way is by listening to the employees, through my representation when they brought actions forward on their own they have been very successful in obtaining things that none of the other Government of Guam employees have been successful in obtaining," he said.

Sommerfleck says it is not a matter of whether the teachers at Agana Heights are not supporters of unionism or working collectively but that they don't want to be working in an adversary role. "And I think that that's the major difference that's going on and is happening right now is that they have decided as a group we want to be a collective voice we want to work together with management and the parents to make a better school," he said.

And while Somerfleck states that GUPPE follows years of disappointment from the Guam Federation of Teachers they are not opposed to working with the federation.

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