Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's In the Paper

Okay - not to worry! According to an article in today's paper, a "union spokesman" is quoted as saying the SEA will allow their membership to vote on their proposed contract on Monday.

That same article mentions our Swanton School Support Staff Association has decided to strike on Monday because a time and date had not been worked out where both sides could sit down together to discuss their contract.

Those of you who are members of a union know that when strike date is called, there is a way for the union to delay that strike, if so desired by that union. We can only assume that our nine SSSA employees have decided that they do not want to delay their strike.

That means the school district must be prepared with substitutes to fill in during the time the strike is actually in effect.

Our two negotiating teams could have set aside time to meet together last week. But without doing so, even if a mediation is scheduled on the weekend, the district must be prepared for Monday morning with substitutes since the SSSA refused to delay their strike date.

As has been demonstrated through our dealings with the SEA recently, once a contract is proposed, there are further union-determined steps that must be followed before that contract may be voted on and then implemented.

At Swanton, the SSSA has traditionally waited until the teachers have finalized the teachers' contract before going forward with negotiating the details on the SSSA contract. It has been a "me, too" situation - whatever the teachers receive in their contract language is exactly what the SSSA wants to be included in their contract.

This year, the teachers' contract will not be finalized until Monday after school, when the SEA membership votes. As the SSSA has refused to delay their strike date, that has put them seriously behind the eightball on their own contract process.

There is nothing from the Board that requires the SSSA to wait for the teachers' contract to be finalized, other than their own desire to do so. That is entirely their right.

Without the SSSA calling for a strike delay, we will have a few days of school where our nine secretaries are not at their posts.

This situation could have been handled much differently - and I am very disappointed that the SSSA has decided to take this course of action.

I have suggested to my fellow Board members that it would be in the best interests of everyone if these two contracts had staggered terms, instead of both coming up for renewal at the same time.

But that doesn't help the situation we face today.

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