Contract Negotiations Stalled

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

Additionally, the district says it probably will not lay off any permanent teachers this year

The teachers’ union has rejected the district’s latest proposal in contract negotiations, likely suspending negotiations until January. Despite disagreements in negotiations, the district says it probably will not lay off any employees this year, which would resolve a separate contentious issue between the district and the union.

The last negotiating session was held Feb. 22.

“The district gave us a proposal they said was their last and best and final, a take it or leave it offer,” Lead Union Negotiator and Miramonte teacher Nick Carpenter said. “We decided to leave it.”

Administrative Services Associate Superintendent Kevin French said both sides presented proposals, but were unable to reconcile differences between them.

“There’s quite a disparity between those proposals,” he said.

Neither the district nor the union would disclose any specifics about the disparities between their proposals. Details about negotiations will not officially be made public until negotiations have ended.

However, librarian and union member Marian Shostrom said union members were told the negotiators rejected the district’s proposal because it included inadequate spending of the district’s reserve.

“They wouldn’t give us back the furlough days that we gave them,” she said. “So they have all that money, but they haven’t spent it. They put it into their reserves.”

The district is projected to have a $10 million reserve by the end of this year, built up in part by money saved from furlough days in previous years. The union’s position is that the district should spend reserve money on teachers and other union members currently serving students.

Shostrom said the union rejected the district’s deal because, although the district offered a temporary raise to teachers, the proposal did not include a permanent pay increase for teachers.

“The general reaction was support for the union position that what the district offered us was not adequate,” Shostrom said.

The district and the union both said they did not believe negotiations would resume before next January.

“If something changes between now and then, we could certainly meet before January,” Learned said. “But whether anything’s going to change financially with the state—I don’t see it happening.”

Carpenter said the union had a more optimistic outlook.

“We’re anticipating things will be better then, so that would give us more negotiation leverage,” he said.

Previously, negotiators had only discussed changes in contract language (i.e. changes to wording to clarify aspects of the contract), but had not discussed money issues.

“We were making really good progress with language,” Carpenter said. “We were just caught up with salary and benefits.”

Carpenter and French said they thought progress they had made with language changes would stand and would not have to be renegotiated in January.

Despite the suspended negotiations, Learned said there would not be any layoffs next year, which clears up a separate issue of contention between the district and the union.

The union originally came out with the position that the district should spend its reserve on employee salaries when the district released documents suggesting elimination or reduction of PKS—legal language for layoffs—as a possibility.

“We were talking about the big numbers before we had a chance to do the analysis,” Learned said.

New calculations, however, show layoffs will be unlikely.

“Based on Mr. French’s analysis, it looks like with the retirees, the temps, and people leaving the district, we won’t have to go down the PKS road for ‘12-‘13,” he said.