School District, teachers at impasse in negotiations

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Juneau School District turned down the teacher union's final contract offer Tuesday afternoon, and the parties are at an impasse.

The district and teachers have agreed to mediation, although no date has been set, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said.

The executive committee of the Juneau Education Association will meet Thursday to decide whether to ask the full membership later this month to authorize a strike if a settlement can't be reached after mediation and arbitration, said union President Tom Gill.

The 350-member JEA had sought a 2 percent increase in rates on the salary schedule, as well as movement up the schedule, which rewards eligible teachers for added experience or college credits.

Increasing the rates is the only way about 30 percent of the teachers can get higher pay because they have reached the limits of the salary schedule.

The contract, which includes counselors and librarians, would be for one year. The current contract expires June 30.

The union also asked for $85 more a month per person for health insurance premiums, and more preparation time for elementary school teachers, Gill said. The district now pays $550 toward teachers' $703 monthly insurance premiums, he said.

Negotiators for the School District weren't willing to take the teacher union's final offer to the School Board, Cowan said.

"We're looking at equity between bargaining units and valuing all of our employees equally," she said Tuesday evening.

The district recently agreed to one-year contracts with unions for support staff and administrators and with nonunion personnel that included movement up the salary schedule for eligible employees, but not higher rates on the schedule.

The district's proposed budget includes movement up the salary schedule for teachers as well.

In those recently negotiated contracts, the district added $85 a month toward the cost of health premiums. Cowan said the district was willing to discuss a similar provision with the teacher union, but because the union's offer was final, the district didn't make a counter-proposal.

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.



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