BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A teachers’ union boycott of Bossier businesses over their opposition to tax proposals for teacher pay raises and technology upgrades could interfere with efforts to find a solution, according to the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.
Those businesses are going to “continue to get aggravated and say, ‘as long as we continue to have these conversations coming from the union, we’re not gonna come to the table and negotiate,'” Bossier chamber President and CEO Lisa Johnson said on Friday.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected the May 4 tax proposal that would have raised property taxes in the parish and helped pay for the raises. Voters also rejected a tax proposal meant for technology upgrades for the school district.
The Bossier Federation Chapter of Red River United is encouraging its union members to not support businesses they say actively worked against the tax proposals, saying in a Facebook post Thursday that they “strongly encourage employees and their supporters to BBB – Boycott Bossier Businesses – those who took action against the proposals while never proposing any type of solution.”
The post included a list of the businesses along with how much money they claim those businesses spent opposing the proposals.
“It saddens us,” Johnson said. “For the union to be doing this is, again, it saddens us and you cannot try to use intimidation without encouraging the conversation to get what you want out of this. We are looking for solutions. We are meeting, we are finding solutions. And if this continues at this level, I’m afraid, based on the phone calls that I’m receiving at the chamber, the negotiations will cease.”
The Bossier chamber and its businesses “don’t work with unions,” said Johnson. Instead, they are working directly with the school system and the administration. “And so our voice is to encourage the union to now step down. We’ve heard you, but we want a positive conversation and we need to move forward. And we’ve already begun that with the administration.”
For its part, the school district says a boycott is counterproductive because they are dependent on revenue from sales and property taxes.
The chamber and member businesses met with the school district and its stakeholders on Wednesday, and Johnson says plans are in the works to meet again.