SCTA Bargaining Update
We want to provide principals with an update on the progress of negotiations with SCTA and the fact-finding process in general. We reiterate that this is a process that helps the parties reach a fair labor agreement. We continue to express that we value and respect the teachers in our district and are committed to compensating them fairly. We do want to attract the best and brightest educators to our district. In doing so, we must also protect the district’s finances for the long term and resist the urge to spend beyond our means. We are hopeful that a settlement can be reached through this impasse process and we remain committed to working towards a compromised solution.
Fact-finding is a step in the impasse procedures outlined by the Educational Employment Relations Act (school employees labor laws). After attempts at mediation without agreement, the district and SCTA were referred to fact-finding. There, a panel consisting of one member selected by the district, one member selected by SCTA and one mutually-agreed upon third member, will review and consider the information presented by both sides. Both parties present information and arguments in an informal hearing that spans from a few hours to a number of days depending on the issue or issues. The hearing is set for Monday May 2, 2016.
It is not unusual for the fact-finding panel to explore settlement options with the parties, before, during or after they have presented their information and arguments. These discussions can help the parties reassess their positions and compromise to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. That translates into a tentative agreement that is then presented to the school Board and to the SCTA membership for independent ratification. We hope to reach an agreement at this stage.
If no such agreement is reached, the parties may continue settlement discussions over the next 30 days, while the fact finding panel prepares a final report. Thereafter, the panel issues a final report that is privately shared with the parties. The panel’s final report must be made public by the district 10 days after its receipt.
Some of you have inquired about SCTA’s ability to strike, given statements of their threat to strike during the month of May. It is our understanding that SCTA cannot engage in any work stoppage before completing the legally required impasse procedures. Otherwise they would be subject to an unfair labor practice as may be determined by the Public Employment Relations Board.
As the process moves forward, we will continue to keep you informed.