Bargaining Update July 23rd

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] [mailto:LUnseth@WashingtonEA.org]
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:41 PM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 23rd

What’s behind the district’s mediation request?

On Wednesday, PAE and PSD met for what was planned as a full day’s bargaining session, with the district due to offer a full counter proposal to the issues PAE presented Tuesday. But prior to presenting its proposal, the district declared it would not agree to spend any more money on Pasco’s students or teachers until PAE started pulling money items out of our package. It was the second time in two days the district suggested teachers should start bargaining against themselves, while they just wait for us to give up on our requests.

The district was not done attempting to delay and deny, however. Supt. Saundra Hill’s lead bargainer then announced the district would stop negotiating any financial matters until a mediator from the state Public Employees Relations Commission is sent to Pasco.

The district’s demand for mediation is yet another deliberate attempt to slow down the process, hoping we will give up sooner or later. Procedurally, the state needs to assign a mediator. The mediator needs to coordinate dates with PAE and PSD that also fit the mediator’s schedule. Once the mediator arrives in Pasco, both sides need to take time to bring the mediator up to speed on their proposals and what has occurred already. Typically, the mediator then puts each side in separate conference rooms and shuttles back and forth, listening separately to each side and then relaying the proposals to the other group. Unlike a courtroom judge, a mediator does not have the power to decide what the final settlement will be; he or she can only try to pressure both sides to reach consensus.

Before recessing, PAE Chief Bargainer Matthew Polk directly asked Hill’s team why the district is trying to push teachers into a strike, instead of bargaining in good faith.

Their team had no answer, other than to say they’d be willing negotiate so long as PAE’s requests don’t have any monetary cost to the district.

The Association has repeatedly told Hill’s team, as well as other Booth building administrators, that PSD’s old style of bargaining and labor relations is no longer acceptable. We also have communicated this message directly to Pasco’s School Board through board-level grievance presentations. Again, one must ask: does Saundra Hill really have a desire to address the concerns presented by the Association? The answer is “NO.” Hill instead continues to believe the Association will back away from the needs of our members and Pasco’s students. While Hill’s misreading of our resolve will ultimately prove futile, she is letting precious time to bargain slip away. With a potential strike vote Aug. 12, and the first week of school only five weeks away, the clock is ticking.

Our members have been clear about the issues the district must address: curriculum, testing, compensation, planning time, work load (including 6th grade transition), special education, TPEP, and a desire to work in a positive work environment. Hill’s team continues assert the district cannot figure out what the issues are.

As the clock continues to tick, it is time for members and parents to tell Saundra Hill that the district needs to meaningfully address the concerns of our teachers and the community — after all, our issues impact every student, and therefore every taxpayer.

We are not giving up simply because Hill refuses to acknowledge educational needs of our district’s teachers and students. Meanwhile, we will wait for the superintendent to get her act together. Through August 12 your bargaining team needs members from all schools go help put pressure on the district to bargain in good faith.

* All schools need to be represented at the July 27 bargaining support work team meeting at 4 p.m. at the WEA-SE office.

* Contribute an hour or two to help make informational signs, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday July 28, and Wednesday July 29, at the PAE office.

* Join in informational picketing Aug. 4 and 5. Times and location set after mediation site is selected.

* Walk select targeted neighborhoods to invite parents and other voters to PAE’s Community Budget Forum Aug 1-10.

* Attend the Community Budget Forum 7 p.m., Aug. 11. Location determined July 27.

* Attend the PAE General Membership Meeting Aug. 12, Steamfitters Local 598, 1328 N Road 28.

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