Friday, May 31, 2013

Session #1 - May 29th, 2013

Welcome to a new round of contract bargaining!  We held our first bargaining session last night at the AHEM office.

The AHEM negotiatons team consists of Paul Goupil, Lead Negotiator and Coon Rapids Middle School teacher; Julie Blaha, AHEM President; LeMoyne Corgard, AHEM Vice President and Oxbow Creek Elementary teacher; Val Holthus, AHEM Secretary and Andover High School teacher; Vicky Czerwinski, Early Childhood Family Education teacher; Jay Wilkins, Anoka High School teacher; Tom Powers, Rum River Elementary teacher; David Kundin, Education Minnesota field Staff; and Gary Christofferson, Education Minnesota field staff.  The district team members are Paul Cady, district General Counsel; Brandon Nelson, Director Labor Relations and Benefits; Jeff McGonigal, High School Associate Superintendent; Tom Hagerty, Jackson Middle School principal; and Mary Wolverton, Elementary Associate Superintendent.

A big change this year is that we are inviting our members to attend.  We had about 30 members observe our first meeting.  We met with the district team for about an hour and fifteen minutes and handled a number of preliminary items and got into our first language proposals.

We discussed our norms and procedures for this round including working to get information to each team ahead of meetings, sharing more specific information with AHEM members and using electronic means when possible.  Next, we discussed the Memoranda of Understanding (agreements we have made in between rounds of bargaining) from the past two years for inclusion into the contract. We agreed on adding those items we shared, and the district reminded us of the language we planned to change to accommodate Q-Comp (mostly editorial and vocabulary changes). We will finalize that agreement at the next meeting.

Next, we started getting into new ideas.  We shared our negotiations goals that we developed from surveys, building meetings, and other member communications and were approved by our Representative Assembly.

We chose our first specific language items because of their timeliness - planning days language to address the workshop weeks in the planning phases right now, and substitute leave to address our pressing issues with sub shortages. They address issues in our Workload and Contract Language goals.

Being ready for our students is a key concern for our members. The planning time language proposal seeks to clearly define and provide for independent work time for educators during Workshop Week and at the end of each trimester.  We propose a minimum of 2 days at the secondary level and 2-1/2 days at elementary of time during Workshop Week without scheduled meetings or duties. We also proposed two days of planning time at the end of each trimester. We believe this will help ensure we have the time to be better prepared for the important work we do for our students.

To help with the substitute shortages in our district, we proposed creating a substitute leave system where educators could cover other classes to earn a day of leave. We based our proposal on other successful systems around the state and what some schools around our district had come up with several years ago.

The district team then asked if we had any questions about the costing spreadsheet they shared with us.  This document is the basic structure and assumptions we all use to discuss compensation. It includes a snapshot of our membership and where they are on the salary schedule, predictions about health care and benefit costs, and formulas to calculate the total cost of our compensation package. We do have some detailed questions about some sections that we will go over with district representatives before the next meeting, but we generally understood their costing.

We ended our meeting by discussing the agenda for our next meeting on June 12th at the ESC, room 137, 10:00 am to Noon.  We plan to discuss ideas to improve parent communication and conferencing; and leadership pay and extra service agreements.

To see the specific documents distributed at the meeting, visit AHEM Bargaining Documents.

We invite you to attend our next session on Wednesday, June 12th.

-Paul, Julie, LeMoyne, Val, Vicki, Jay, Tom, Gary, and David