Thursday, June 20, 2013

Session #2, May 12, 2013

Our second bargaining session was on Wednesday, June 12th, from 10:00 am to 11:40 am at the Educational Service Center (ESC). We continued discussing issues and laying out our major issues for this round of contract negotiations (agenda here: ). Despite a lovely summer day, we had about 25 members observe the proceedings.

We began by finalizing our agreement on adding current Memoranda of Understanding (agreements we make between rounds of bargaining) to our contract.  We had to confirm the editorial changes caused by Q-Comp to complete the process. We believe we should be able to sign off on that (see the document here: )  at the next session.

Next, the district team responded to our proposals from the last session (you can view them here: ). Regarding our proposal on substitute leave, the district is interested, but wants to investigate it further. They may want to make changes to the number of minutes of subbing required to qualify for the leave and make adjustments for elementary level teachers for instance.

Responding to our planning time proposal, they had a number of questions about how we suggest adding a day of planning time at the end of each trimester. We said we were open to a number of options there, including changing student contact time to planning time or extending the school year with pay for the additional time.

Next we discussed our proposal to designate a minimum of 2 days of planning time at the secondary level and 2-1/2 days of planning time at the elementary level during workshop week.  The district said that it was not a required subject of bargaining (that’s true – it is permissible to have such language in a contract, but nor required) and they feel the current system of meeting and conferring with the school board on the calendar addresses the issue well. We explained that we did not feel our planning needs have been adequately addressed through this process, as we are merely advisory on that committee. The district maintains that they do not want to bargain this language.

The district then shared the issues they would like to discuss during this round.
They did not share their full document with observers, so here is a summary of what they proposed:

  • Discuss the duty day, flex time, trade time, and professional responsibility.
  • Discuss changes leadership compensation
  • Modify compensation for on-line training workshops.
  • Modify the district contribution for single health insurance.
  • Making availability of sabbatical leaves of absence by district discretion
  • Modify a number of positions laid out in Appendix B of our contract, including changing the pay and adding positions
  • Payment of extra service agreements as a lump sum only
  • Modify stranding rules
  • Modify union use of teacher mailboxes
  • Review Scope of Association Leave
  • Make Editorial changes to the contract

We then presented our language proposals on Family Communication Time and leadership pay, you can find them here: . We presented some of these ideas during our last round of bargaining, but did not get to a place of agreement. The first item is to codify the four days in our calendar that are set aside for parent communication (also known as the “28 hours and 40 minutes for conferences) as time to communicate with families. Our aim is to keep that time flexible enough to keep up with changes in how we all connect with our students’ families. We also added a stipulation that the gap in time between the end of our duty day and the beginning of the event should be part of the calculation of the total time required for the event. Finally, we proposed that ten hours of family communication time be set aside in recognition of the time we put in on our own to communicate with families between conferences. The district had a number of questions, but did not indicate if they support the language.

Our second proposal would modify leadership pay by moving all teachers paid for leadership positions at Levels E and F in Article X, Section 8 of the contract to Level D, and then get rid of Levels E and F.  We heard from a number of teachers that the workload and value of positions paid at the lower levels matched those paid at higher levels, and this is a way to bring those positions up to a level that makes more sense.

We also proposed creating a task force to take a deeper look at our entire leadership pay and extra service agreement structure. The last time we analyzed this area of the contract was over ten years ago. The district mentioned that the last task force struggled with the idea that big changes could cause “winners and losers”. We agreed that it's a valid concern, but that making changes piecemeal or staying put creates winners and losers too.

For the next session, we plan to continue discussion on the items we have proposed so far, as we have some large topics on the table. Hope to see you then – Wednesday, June 26, 9:45 am at the AHEM office.