Moving on to mediation

Dear Unite Summit family,  

Yesterday, we began the process of requesting a mediator to help our union and Summit’s bargaining team continue to find common ground in agreeing to our first contract.  The Public Employment Relations Board trains and assigns mediators to support contract negotiations and help employers and unions come to agreements. We have requested a mediator because we believe we cannot make any more progress in bargaining at this point — this is called “impasse.” We all want a first contract as soon as possible, but we also need a quality contract that reflects Summit teachers’ most important values and needs. We are hopeful that, with your support and the support of our broader community, we will make progress during this next stage of negotiations.  In this newsletter, we outline the major values and items we will continue to advocate to have in the contract.

Why mediation?

We sincerely believe that having the assistance of a mediator will be helpful; at this point, we are simply not making substantial progress towards an agreement. Mediators are trained to help unions and employers find common ground and come up with new solutions that we can both agree to.  We are optimistic and hopeful that mediation will help us reach a suitable agreement. 

We are requesting a mediator now due to a stall in negotiations. We have been in negotiations for over fifteen months and have met 28 times —  well over 90 hours.  Our bargaining team has met for dozens of hours outside of this time to gather information and priorities from our entire Summit community and craft proposals that reflect that input. There are many core values and items that Summit teachers want, but that Summit administration’s bargaining team has not agreed to and in some cases has not responded to (see our issue-by-issue breakdown here).  Because mediation is designed to help both bargaining teams understand each others’ values and help us explore solutions, at this point it is common and appropriate to bring in an outside presence to help our two parties come to an agreement. 

Yesterday’s meeting illustrated that it is time to move onto mediation. 

For example, the Summit Public Schools negotiating team presented an Hours of Employment, Job Duties, and Work Year proposal on April 21, 2020 which contained a substantial increase in work days (212 vs the current 196). Unite Summit countered on May 22, 2020. There were subsequently 11 more counters on this article between the parties, and while some movement was made on both sides, Summit continued to stick to its position of 212 work days. As another example, during Wednesday’s bargaining session, Summit presented a counterproposal on the Grievance Article which merely contained non-substantive formatting and language adjustments. It is clear that progress has stalled and that more bargaining sessions will not result in the settling of the collective bargaining agreement. 

For an issue-by-issue breakdown, please click this link.

Stay tuned for next steps and ways you can support settling a strong contract!