Update, 3:15 p.m.

The Lens will not live-blog the ballot-counting at Lusher on Tuesday evening because the school has shut out the public and the media.

Monday, a representative of the National Labor Relations Board said the media would be allowed to observe the vote counting.

We emailed Lusher CEO Kathy Riedlinger to tell her we would be there. Her response: “That’s fine with me.”

Today at noon, we published this story. About 30 minutes later, The Lens received an email from the Brylski Company, Lusher’s public relations firm, saying parents, the public and the media would not be allowed on campus during voting or vote-counting.

The Lens was referred to Mag Bickford, an attorney representing Lusher on the labor issue. Bickford said the decision to keep the public out was made this morning. She wouldn’t say who had made that decision.

The National Labor Relations Board manual states that media and “and other interested persons” can observe counting, as long as there’s room and the owner of the building allows it.

Kathleen McKinney, head of the regional office of the NLRB, told Uptown Messenger that “the press would be welcome during counting.” Lusher’s board chair also criticized the administration for keeping people out, calling it an abuse of power.

We’ll update this post if the situation changes.

Original post

National Labor Relations Board representatives will count ballots at the middle and high school campus on Freret Street at 5:30 p.m.

Two groups of employees are voting today:

Teachers are considering two issues: whether they want United Teachers of New Orleans to negotiate their pay and benefits and whether they’d like paraprofessionals to be included in their bargaining group.

The second group is voting only on whether they want to be represented by UTNO.

There are several possible outcomes tonight:

  • Both groups decide not to unionize.
  • Both groups decide to unionize, and teachers opt to include aides in their bargaining unit.
  • Both groups decide to unionize, but teachers decide to negotiate pay separately from teacher’s aides.
  • Teachers decide not to unionize, but teachers’ aides do.
  • Teachers decide to unionize but teachers’ aides don’t.

In April, Lusher’s board voted 5-6 against recognizing the union. The union then asked the National Labor Relations Board to organize an election for them.

Although the board passed a resolution expressing neutrality in the matter, Lusher’s administration went against its wishes and challenged the union’s request for an election.

A regional director ruled that Lusher is subject to the labor board’s jurisdiction and ordered that the election be held today.

Teachers are unionized at two other schools in New Orleans. In the other cases, Morris Jeff Community School and Benjamin Franklin High School, the boards voluntarily recognized the union.

This story was changed after publication to note that Lusher is not allowing the public to be present when ballots are counted. (May 17, 2016)

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...