Letters to the Editor: Teachers ready to negotiate
We the teachers of the Addison Northwest School District are ready, willing, and able to negotiate. Teacher-negotiators were disappointed by an abrupt declaration of impasse given by the ANWSD board representatives at our April 10 negotiations meeting.
In October, the board proposed holding negotiation meetings for 30 hours. We clearly expressed our desire to go the distance and reach a mutual agreement. Unfortunately, impasse was declared short of the 30 hours. We came to the negotiating table with 16 proposed changes to the Master Agreement — clearly emphasizing what was most important to us, and certain we could reach an agreement. The board, however, came to the table with 137 proposed changes to our Master Agreement (which is only 21 Articles in total length). This exceptionally high number of changes was an immediate indication that it would be nearly impossible to come to an agreement within their stated timeline.
During meetings, the board continually requested that we put what they called their “housekeeping items” on the agenda. We honored their requests, which delayed discussion of key issues such as length of school year and day, professional development, teacher evaluation, salary and health care benefits. We agreed upon numerous tentative agreements and were feeling positive about the progress. We were optimistic about the scheduled April 20 meeting, which was canceled due to impasse. At our April 10 meeting we offered a counter-proposal that decreased our original salary proposal, continuing to negotiate in good faith. Immediately following our counter proposal, with no discussion, the board declared impasse.
While the board believes mediation may be a tool for coming to agreement, we previously have been able to reach consensus without further cost to our community, with little outside help. During current negotiations, the board has incurred expenses for lawyer fees, consultants, communications director, and an administrative assistant to take minutes for open meetings. These funds would be better spent on our students’ education.
The mediation process is costly in monetary value to the taxpayers, as well as its impact on employee/employer relations. Our team, representing the teachers of ANWSD, wants to work with the board at the table to come to a negotiated agreement. We feel strongly that face-to-face negotiations can be productive and that their declaration of impasse was premature.
Susan Oliveira & Rose Wenzel, co-chief negotiators for Addison Northwest Teachers Association, and
Negotiators Nancy Ambrose, Beth Adreon, Beth Ekroos, Jackie Russett, Sheryl Thurber and Lynda Hutchins
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