Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Moving to Mediation

Message sent to AHEM members December 20th, 2013:

Six months of bargaining between the AHEM negotiations team and the district representatives have produced so little progress that we believe it is now time to request state mediation.

We expect this step will unfortunately move talks behind closed doors, but we believe it will also accelerate our progress toward a fair and competitive settlement that will allow our educators to once again give their undivided attention to teaching and learning.

Our meeting Wednesday evening finally convinced us that we needed to try something new. It was the twelfth contract bargaining session and we made no significant progress. The current district offer is virtually unchanged from their first offer.

The district continues to insist that almost all the new money on the salary schedule come from a decrease in the value of health insurance benefits. In addition, the district has yet to respond to a number of our proposals, including extending parental leave to mothers.

More specifically, on Wednesday the district team claimed there is no real difference between the Choice Select and Elect/Essential health insurance plans. They repeated their proposal to change from 100 percent single coverage to a flat dollar amount that would need to be renegotiated each round of contract bargaining.

They also did not move from their last salary schedule increase offer of Steps 1-11: zero percent the first year and 1 percent the second; Career Steps: 1.25 percent the first year and 1.55 percent the second; and the addition of "Step 11.5" to add a year between step 11 and Career 1. (For more details, visit www.ahemnegotiationsnews.blogspot.com.)

As you can see, we need the help of the Bureau of Mediation Services. We anticipate the mediator will follow standard practice and close sessions to the public, but we will continue to provide you with as many details as possible during mediation.

Your input and participation has been invaluable to us. We cannot exaggerate the importance of the support we felt when hundreds of our colleagues gave up their nights to attend bargaining sessions.

We are honored to work on your behalf for a contract you deserve for the great work you do, and that helps you educate your students effectively. 

We wish you a rejuvenating break and will keep you posted,

Your AHEM Negotiations Team: Paul, LeMoyne, Vicki, Jay, Tom, Val, and Julie