The teachers of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union are disappointed that they and the boards were unable to reach a settlement Dec. 16, and are concerned about the direction of negotiations. A tentative meeting is scheduled by the school boards Jan. 5 to take action on negotiations - possibly deciding to unilaterally impose working conditions for the school year instead of bargaining an agreement.
Walking away from the negotiations table and imposing working conditions will hurt the relationship between teachers and the school boards. It also hurts our schools, community and students because it represents a break down of a willingness to work together.
It is important to understand what is at stake, and what separates the members of the Addison Northeast Education Association from the supervisory union's boards.
The teachers have been working without a contract this year (over 6 months); they have remained in the classrooms, teaching the community's children; and they are committed to their schools, their students and their profession.
And while teachers acknowledge that the boards have begun to compromise - their initial proposals would have doubled the cost of health insurance, cut pay by thousands of dollars, increase the school day and remove important workplace protections - they are worried that the board's declaration of a "final offer" bodes poorly for a settlement.
The board's proposals would still cut teacher pay, given the average $600-a-year extra teachers are paying toward their retirement system.
The board's proposals would still boost the cost of health insurance by 50 percent, at a cost of hundreds of dollars a year for every teacher.
The boards are, at a time when teachers are working hard to ensure that our schools are providing an outstanding education to all students, seeking to force teachers to spend more times in meetings outside of their classrooms.
The boards are insisting on upending decades of labor practice by sticking to a proposal that would invalidate negotiated salary schedules in the event that a contract expires without a successor in place. In other words, they want to be able to declare an imposition, then not be bound by terms of the agreement that expired.
The teachers have been frustrated at the pace of negotiations, and, at this point, are not convinced that the board is as serious about a reaching a negotiated settlement as they should be.
Walking away from the table is a mistake, not just for teachers, but for our schools, our communities and our students. Please consider attending the Jan. 5 meeting at Mt. Abe starting in the auditorium and encourage your board members to keep bargaining to work out a fair settlement for both sides.
The teachers stand ready and able to reach a deal that is fair to teachers, good for the schools and fair to taxpayers. It can be done. A decision to impose is not the answer.
ANEDA Spokesperson & Chief Negotiator