School district, teachers’ union reach impasse

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, April 16, 2015 9:20pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula Education Association have reached an impasse in collective bargaining negotiations.

The decision that the negotiations had reached a point where it was no longer possible to move forward was made Wednesday during a scheduled meeting.

The Seattle office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) was contacted to appoint a mediator to the negotiations, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.

A date has not yet been set for those meetings, she said.

KPEA spokesperson Matt Fischer said one of the items that had a dead end discussion was the school district’s health care proposal, which was revisited Wednesday.

“In bargaining, you are not supposed to go backwards, and to us, that was clearly going backwards,” Fischer said. “It was a worse proposition than before.”

During mediation meetings, the two teams will gather in separate rooms and the hired mediator will relay information between the two groups to further develop the contracts and reach an agreement, Fischer said.

“The school district’s position is that we are far apart in our thinking and methodology at this point in negotiations,” Erkeneff said.

The state’s current fiscal situation is a significant factor in contract development for the school district, she said

Utilizing a mediator is common during negotiations, Erkeneff said.

If an agreement cannot be reached with a mediator, the teams will move into an arbitration process, which is when a third party is hired to act as an advisory judge, she said.

The decisions made during that part of the process could be fairly binding, Erkeneff said. Only if necessary, an arbitrator will also be hired through the Seattle office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The contracts with the teachers association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, which is also in negotiations with the school district, end on June 30, 2015. If negotiated agreements have not been reached by July 1, 2015, the current contracts will still apply, she said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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