FF teachers still without contractPublished 10:59am Monday, January 23, 2012
Fergus Falls District 544 negotiations between teachers and the school board are among 184 negotiations taking place across the state of Minnesota. There are 338 school districts in Minnesota.
“Fergus Falls school district negotiators have met seven times with the local representatives of the statewide Education Minnesota union,” said Fergus Falls School Board member Melanie Cole. “Contract language proposals come from both sides. The focus is on conditions of employment, time off, insurance, salary and retirement benefits.”
Cole said they’ve not reached significant agreement on these negotiating items, and are scheduled to meet again on Monday, Jan. 30. The average settlement across Minnesota is close to six percent for the two-year period (2011-12 and 2012-13).
The union has a team of seven, with Everett Jacobson and Jerome Holicky as lead negotiators.
The head of the Minnesota teachers union, Tom Dooher, is calling for a swift settlement of teacher contracts across the state. Dooher is president of Education Minnesota, the state teachers’ union.
Dooher cites the lifting of a deadline to settle Minnesota teacher contracts, which are negotiated every two years, as reasons for settlement delays across the state.
The 2011 State Legislature repealed the traditional Jan. 15 settlement deadline, making this year the first time since 2004 that the bargaining deadline was not in place.
“The 184 contracts not settled compares with 18 unsettled contracts two years ago,” said Dooher in an interview with the Associated Press.
Dooher said that protracted contract talks aren’t good for teachers, school districts or students. He added that Education Minnesota wants the deadline reinstated.
“Here in Fergus Falls, both sides mutually agreed to not meet last summer due to the state shutdown and the uncertainty of the outcome,” said Steve Olson, co-president of the Fergus Falls Education Association. “Not meeting over the summer has put us behind a bit, but we believe both sides are working hard towards a settlement.”