Sunday, June 18, 2006

commentary on the most recent bargaining proposal

Here are my thoughts. Share yours in the comments.

1. Special Education Bargaining Committee and OT/PT/SLP Bargaining Committee to meet in 2006-7 to recommend bargaining language changes.

Don't know, won't say.

2. Nurses given language allowing right to call a meeting should their working conditions be of serious concern.

Commonsensical. Our nurses are thinly stretched and need a mechanism to ensure that their plight is officially recognized.

3. Teacher-Librarians given a new official designation, allowed to call for a meeting to discuss building budget concerns. Meaning of FTE toward teacher-librarian changed.

I'm the son of an elementary school librarian who for many years had to teach library classes without a teaching certificate. Her district was--and is--lucky to have her. Thankfully, our district's teacher-librarians are highly qualified. Seems more than reasonable to officially recognize their role outside the confines of the bookshelves.

4. Language in the contract ensuring that any and all materials placed in employee's building and permanent file will include employee signature.

In my rookie ignorance, I was surprised to know that this isn't already the case. I wholeheartedly support this measure to increase openness in staff / administrative relationships.

5. RIF changes
  • Language to improve communication channels so it is clear, consistent, and updated centrally.
  • Adds District experience for seniority.
  • Now includes all endorsement areas for consideration during RIF
  • Vastly increased role for employee in choosing available positions with full knowledge of all positions available (RIF / Seniority list open, updated annually)
  • RIF'd employees able to use emergency leave for out-of-district interviews, as well as personal days including the last week of school
These directly address some of the largest concerns coming out of the RIF process. (I was a Riffie. Were you?) The first provision, ironically, is the vaguest, but the central updates will be the most significant change. Adding district experience is an easy way to reward loyalty. I'm not sure which endorsements will be added for consideration and what effect the third provision will have; anyone who knows is encouraged to comment. The fourth and fifth provisions are important and a significant sign of respect for the person in the middle of the process. Let's hope these are all unnecessary.

6. Compensation / Staff Development Changes
Corrected from the previous post.
  • For this past year, retroactively applied: no additional compensation.
  • For the next contract year: 6 hours of staff development in one added day, and 6 hours of optional time.
  • For the year after that: 6 more hours of staff development in another added day combined with the other six for two added calendar days, and 3 more hours of optional time.
  • Midwinter break would be reduced to accommodate the new days so we wouldn't have to work further into the summer. Spring Break likely moved to the first week of April.
  • Teachers would no longer have to fill out timeslips to earn their optional time. Instead, the union would decide how those hours would be apportioned--all at one time, month by month, whatever.

The new staff development days would be a mixture of Building and District offerings, attendance, as always, at the employee's discretion.

These latest concessions are worth supporting. They represent a significant raise and a workable compromise. Although mid-winter break is much-needed respite, making it'll still be a four-day weekend. Also, the possible spring break move would eliminate the let's-come-back-to-the-WASL, as the current schedule has it.

In short, I'm voting to ratify. The changes are significant and respect the needs of both sides. I haven't yet heard a good reason to vote "no," so if you think you have one, share it in the comments.

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