Teachers union frustrated with approach to talks
The Greencastle-Antrim Education Association is frustrated with the way the school board is approaching negotiations with a teachers strike planned next week.
The Greencastle-Antrim educators expressed disappointment with the school board’s cancellation of last Monday’s contract negotiations meeting without proposing any alternative dates, according to a press release issued Wednesday evening, March 21.
"Although the district claims it 'rescheduled' the meeting to March 26, this date was already on the schedule for negotiations. The collective bargaining teams now have only one session left to reach a tentative agreement before the scheduled April 4 strike date," the news release said.
GAEA and the school board came to an impasse in December after nearly a year of negotiations when the teachers voted twice to accept the recommendations of a fact-finder's report and the board voted twice to reject it. With variables including years of education and years of service, the fact-finder's proposed salary increases were 2.87 percent for 2017-18; 2.79 percent for 2018-19; 2.96 percent for 2019-20; and 2.96 percent for 2020-21.
A new proposal from GAEA includes lower salary increases, according to Brandon Solomon, a high school English teacher as well as vice president and lead negotiator for the 181-member teachers union, but he said he cannot provide specifics.
The GAEA news release says:
“We would have welcomed a chance to reschedule the meeting any day this week which would have added another day of negotiations, but the school district did not offer any alternative dates,” said Ellen Kirkner, GAEA president and high school social studies teacher.
“The district’s attorney, Michael King stated in a press release (issued Monday, March 19) that the school district needed additional time to analyze the cost of our latest proposal,” Kirkner said. “However, that’s not what was communicated to us.”
Kirkner noted that GAEA’s negotiations team is frustrated that an additional date was not offered.
“This latest cancellation illustrates why we have not made any progress. There’s no tentative agreement and our strike date is less than two weeks away,” said Solomon, high school English teacher and GAEA’s chief negotiator.
“We wish the school board members had the same sense of urgency to settle this contract that we do. The bottom line is that we are ready to negotiate with the district on all outstanding issues any time, any place,” Solomon said.
The teachers of the Greencastle-Antrim School District will continue to seek a fair salary and benefit package that will attract and maintain a quality education for the Greencastle community.
Teachers have been working under the terms of their previous contract, which expired Aug. 31, 2017. GAEA represents 181 teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, reading specialists and librarians.
GAEA will hold the latest in its series of coffee klatches at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, in The Life Center, 35 N. Carlisle St.