Bargaining Brief - June 13, 2017

District Withdraws from Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB)

Our IBB protocols require that both sides meet with the IBB facilitator prior to withdrawing from the process. The District triggered such a meeting which was held last week. At that meeting, it became clear that the District had no interest in continuing interest-based discussions. District negotiators insisted upon leaving the collaborative process. The District stated: “Until we get to a crisis point where one side can strike and one side can implement, we won’t get to a deal.”


District Moves one Step Closer to Imposing its Contract

In order to impose its contract proposal upon PAT, the District would need to complete multiple steps in a bargaining process required by state law. There are three decision points to move to implementation or to a strike: 1.) asking for mediation, 2.) declaring impasse, and 3.) imposing a contract/calling a strike. The District demanded mediation to clear the first hurdle towards imposing its contract.

Mediation Scheduled during July

Mediation is scheduled to begin on July 10th. Under state law, the parties must mediate for at least 15 calendar days before being able to declare impasse (the second step towards imposing a contract or going on strike). Your bargaining organizer will ask you to update your contact information to receive Bargaining Briefs over the summer. You may also be asked to show solidarity with your bargaining team over the summer by attending some organizing events.

Message from Steve Lancaster, PAT Bargaining Chair

Comments given at the 6-8-17 Bargaining Organizer Meeting

It now seems clear that District leadership foresees a future of continued budget crises, and they want the ability to manage budget shortfalls by laying off educators and mandating that the same or even increasing levels of service be provided by the educators who survive the ax.

They know that the single line of Article 5 that requires workloads to be generally comparable to the 2010-2011 school year prevents them from doing whatever they want with our workload. They know so because when they tried to increase workloads with the High School schedule, they lost a multi-million dollar arbitration that resulted in the strengthening of our Workload language in Appendix F.

It is PAT’s goal to use our Article 5 language to further specify workload limits for all levels and specialties and to protect all educators from any form of increased workload, not just the most obvious issue of class size / case load. From new technology mandates, to new programs and initiatives, to new or increased communication or collaboration requirements; all forms of administrative demands on our time and energy that produce a NET INCREASE in our work can be challenged based on Article 5. Without this single line, we lose a critical hedge of protection against potentially unlimited increased workload demands that can be imposed on us by the District.

The District team has told us that this protection for educators must be eliminated and that their demand is not negotiable. Furthermore, they have made giving us a reasonable COLA contingent upon us surrendering this language to them. It seems clear that they believe that we can either be bullied or bought. Here they have deeply miscalculated. First, I don’t know too many educators who respond well to bullying.  In fact, I think we are kind of officially against the practice of bullying no matter who is doing it.

They do not seem to understand the deep sense of justice that is part of the teacher DNA and if you treat us unjustly, we will not stand passively by and take the abuse; we will stand up for ourselves and stand up for what is fair.

Second, they think that as long as they throw a little money at us, we will accept whatever working conditions they decide to create. They think that at the end of the day money matters more to us than the service we are able to provide to students. They just don’t get it. I don’t know too many colleagues who said: “Hey, I think I’ll go into teaching for the money”. Most of the teachers I know teach because they have a passion for kids and a belief that the time we spend with them can help them eventually become fully actualized adults; adults who can and will make the world a little less broken than it is. We do this work IN SPITE of the relatively poor compensation. A reasonable COLA is not something we should have to beg for, it’s something that should be offered out of respect for the work we do and the sacrifices we make to do that work. Offering us a small raise while simultaneously paving the way to make it impossible for us to adequately serve our kids is not an acceptable trade off. It’s a disrespectful and cynical insult.

The District may start the next school year already imposing changes in our workyear and workload. That is why PAT filed and unfair labor practice.  If we submit to their demands now, this will not just be bad for the next two years, it will be the new normal. If the District’s bullying behavior and bribery tactics succeed, we should expect more of the same during the next contract and your Bargaining Team will have no power to resist the inevitable continued erosion of your contractual protections. It is critical that we organize the membership to send a clear message: The District needs to know that we cannot be bullied and we will not be bought.