School district employees are voting on whether or not they plan to strike after contract negotiations were left unresolved last week.
Since May 8, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and two employee associations, Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, have been negotiating a contract in several collective bargaining meetings. Thursday’s session ended with no contract, and no plans for further meetings.
“Negotiations between teachers and classified school employees, including classroom paraeducators, custodians, secretaries, nurses and food service staff working for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have deteriorated leaving both unions looking at a possible strike,” a Thursday press release from the Kenai Peninsula Education Association said.
Before last week’s contract negotiations ended in a standstill, the associations took a soft survey to gauge members’ willingness to strike if their most recent proposal was rejected by the district. David Brighton, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, said around 84% of their certified members were in support of a strike.
A more official vote is underway. A majority vote would authorize the strike. Employees and the associations will choose a strategic time to start the strike, according to a presentation posted on the Kenai Peninsula Education Association’s Facebook page on Sunday. Should a strike be approved, the association will hold meetings over the summer to prepare employees on how to strike successfully.
The associations are required to give the district a 72-hour notice ahead of any strike. District employees cannot be fired for participating in a legal strike.
For over a year, contract negotiations have snagged on the rising cost of health care. A previous agreement effective through June 2018 remains in use for employees without contracts.