Teachers' contract appears close but another one looms at the end of June

skinney@keynoter.comApril 26, 2014 

The Monroe County School District and the United Teachers of Monroe might finally be close to a contact, but negotiations for the next one already are right around the corner.

District Superintendent Mark Porter and union President Holly Hummell-Gorman met yet again Wednesday to try to agree on a deal for the school year that ends June 30, and again it didn't happen. So the board is poised to impose employment terms on the union next month.

Through more than a year of talks on a deal for the 2013-14 school year, both sides have emphasized the need to give teachers pay raises. They've been held up by disagreement over language in the contract that would allow the board to impose unpaid furlough days if district finances dictate it.

The two major issues are the unpaid furlough days and how to divide the $1.25 million in raises for teachers and school-related personnel like bus drivers that were authorized by the state Legislature.

"While a negotiated agreement would have avoided further delay in getting much deserved salary increases to all employees," Porter said, "we are no worse off than we were before the session and will now proceed toward an impasse hearing."

In the past, UTM has challenged the board through filings of unfair labor practice with the state Public Employees Relation Commission and appealed decisions to the First District Court of Appeal. If done again, both those actions would have the effect of delaying a board decision.

"We aren't going to do anything that would delay the legislative impasse hearing,"
Hummell-Gorman said. "We truly want to complete this process and put this behind us."

She said the two sides are looking at May 6 or May 9 as potential meeting dates.

"Getting those raises out there is the most important thing for us at this point," board member John Dick said.

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