In our previous newsletter, we felt it was important that our bargaining unit understood the significance of the impasse procedure. Your Negotiation Team members are quite familiar with the procedure having experienced impasse first hand either in whole or part during the 2009 and 2015 years. Since the District declared impasse, two significant actions have taken place. The first being the District contacted SRPE and both sides mutually agreed to return to the negotiation table. SRPE looked forward to this return as a tangible effort for both sides to continue negotiation talks in seeking a resolution. Evidently, the School Board differed in this effort, contrary to its proposed MOU stating its desire to continue negotiations. Subsequently the District again contacted SRPE to cancel further negotiations. No explanation was forthcoming to either the public nor your bargaining agent, SRPE.
SRPE then requested both parties participate in mediation as a means of resolving disputed issues prior to the impasse hearing. So, what is mediation and how is it different than impasse? Mediation is a tool through which the federal government supports sound and stable labor management relations. As neutrals, mediators provide a third-party perspective and leverage the expertise of the skilled negotiators at the table to address the core interests of the negotiating parties.
Mediation is a separate process that takes place prior to and has no bearing on impasse. It is an attempt to rebuild dialogue, create an understanding of positions, and assist in reaching joint problem solving. Similarly, the goal of impasse is to accomplish the same. However, impasse is a required process whereas mediation is not. Neither procedural attempts nor procedural recommendations are binding on our School Board. Our Board is the final decision making body.
Impasse leaves a foul taste in employees’ mouths. Our school district has declared impasse 3 times in the past 8 years. Employees don’t care for the taste and Board Members suffered for it. Since our 2009 impasse only one Board Member remains - Diane Scott.
Voices are heard. Votes are too. This was the case with the 1982 impasse when all 5 board members were unseated. And these particular 5 Board Members even went above and beyond the Special Magistrate’s recommendation of 5% and voted to approve an 8% raise! Likewise, 4 of the 5 seated 2009 impasse Board Members have been replaced, the lone exception being Diane Scott. The message is that impasse is not viewed favorably by employees nor the community at large.
Now is the time to be a voice for your students, your family, and your profession. Call and write your Board Members. Share the message of recruiting and retaining quality personnel for our school system.
Be a voice!