11 August 2007

Got Contract?

The teachers in this district apparently have a new contract to ratify. The scuttlebutt is that negotiations ended in the wee hours of last weekend. The Union's Little Dictator even showed up at the administrators' meeting this week---though not everyone believed she had reason to be present. Everyone is feeling rather smug, as some districts in the state are having trouble getting to this point.

I haven't seen or heard any specifics of the newly negotiated working conditions for us, but teachers in Bethel aren't cottoning to the idea of using WASL scores as a component of teacher evaluation. They have agreed to enter into mediation with the district in order to resolve sticky issues in time for the start of school. (Jim has more on the story over at WA Teachers.)

Other districts, including Arlington, Edmonds, and Mukilteo, have also been engaging in negotiations throughout the summer. They seem to have been able to reach an agreeable conclusion, although the rank and file has yet to put their seal of approval on things.

I had heard that The Union here was unwilling to move through negotiations too quickly as they wanted to see what other districts were offering within their contracts. It would not surprise me to learn that they were specifically looking for protections for ineffective teachers. Someone recently mentioned to me that one of our elementary teachers recently made a point of taking on roles within The Union because she realized that she wasn't a good teacher. Having Union visibility would be the only way to keep her job.

Is anyone looking out for kids in all of this?


Dr Pezz said...

I may have mentioned this previously, but I was voted in as an executive board member in my area this year. I was basically asked to run to keep a truly inept member from winning the election. Maybe he needed the job to keep his "teaching" gig. I don't know...

Anyway, I'm really hoping that I can make some positive changes, especially since the evaluation process is changing in my area.

We also have a president who a few members feel is attempting to consolidate power into the president's position instead of making decisions by executive board committee as our by-laws are written. I haven't seen this as of yet, but I will be ever-vigilant.

Any suggestions for a newbie union guy? :)

The Science Goddess said...

There was a great post over at Teacher in a Strange Land on "Stickin' it to the Union" http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2007/07/stickin-to-the-.html

The space "we" find ourselves in is not unique---it's a combination of the old guard which is about benefits and the new style teachers which are more focused on working conditions in the sense of opportunities to collaborate.

There are no solutions to reconcile those different views on the function of the union, but perhaps that's something you want to toss around with your exec board? What do you see as your primary function?

Hugh O'Donnell said...

DrPezz, you're to be congratulated for running for the executive board. Why? Because there are two reasons teachers go for that position: 1) they have an axe to grind, 2) they have a sense of duty.

You obviously fall into the second category, and my best "advice" is to steer according to your moral compass, without fear of what your union peers say, think, or do.

Be persuasive rather than abrasive, but stay on the high road.

SG, I could again be full of beans, but I think union leadership represents a mirror image of district leadership, but with a built-in time lag.

It took us a couple of years to get the union used to the idea that we weren't conducting adversarial business as usual (maybe it took a while for a few administrators to get the message too).

Aside from that, SG, I think you "mission analysis" is right on.

Final thought: you have an encouraging friend here, DrPezz. Have at 'em!

Dr Pezz said...

Thanks for your kind words, SG and Repairman. My first official duty time is tomorrow at a training session for our new evaluation process.