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Teachers' Union President, School Board Differ on Contract

Teachers' Union President, Board of Ed Rejected Suggestions; Board of Education: We're Still Waiting To Hear Them

The president of the local teachers union wrote a to the membership this week saying the union is being criticized unfairly for refusing to make concessions.

The union has rejected the Board of Education’s offer of a buyout incentive for senior teachers coupled with a wage freeze. The freeze would have rolled back a 2.65 percent pay increase and a 2 percent step increase for eligible teachers that was awarded for the 2011-12 fiscal year, the third year of a three-year contract.

In his letter to 350 members of the Farmington Education Association, Mark DiBiasio wrote "The offer was a buyout for senior teachers if and only if we committed to a total wage freeze for all teachers. This was not acceptable. No other deal was offered to the teachers. We made alternative suggestions that were rejected."

But Board of Education Chairman Mary Grace Reed and the negotiation team said the union never offered a counter-offer.

DiBiasio said that what he meant by “alternative suggestions” was that the union had offered to open the contract and renegotiate, just a few days before the board was scheduled to set its budget.

But the school negotiating team said no specific concessions were offered and attempts to follow up with DiBiasio went nowhere. An open-ended contract negotiation, with no goals in mind was not feasible by the time the budget was almost final, Reed said.

“Contract negotiations take months,” she said. The teachers’ contract negotiations usually last from July to October.

Still, though the Town Council has set its budget, with $494,000 in cuts to the proposed education budget, according to Reed it’s not too late and if the union does have suggestions, the board's willing to hear them.

On Friday in a from the Board of Education Reed said, "The Board remains ready and willing, as they have for the last 3 budget years, to engage in concession discussions at any time.”

carol symonds March 18, 2011 at 04:13 PM
As a member of the FEA, I have received and read Mark's letter to the membership. This article does not accurately reflect his comments. In fact, this article has left out the majority of the union president's remarks to the FEA members. I feel Mark's letter should be published in its entirety so the public can decide on its own if his remarks were accurate or not.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) March 18, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Hi Carol, there's a link in the story.
carol symonds March 18, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Thank you, Kaitlin, for adding the link.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) March 18, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Please note that a response from the Board of Education has been added to the end of this story.
William James March 19, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Thanks for reporting all of this. Can someone explain to me why this matters at all now? The town council has set the final budget. Why are both sides attacking each other now? Makes no sense. They should be MUCH more focused on setting a lower 3 year contract after this is up for protecting future budgets. At this point who cares about asking for concessions AFTER the fact??? Both sides seem overly political and its hard to believe either. Just save the programs and teachers (which the current budget would do for the most part), then negociate a more appropriate deal for the next 3 years!
Nancy Swanson March 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Congratulations to President DiBiaso for representing educators in Farmington. I am very disappointed in the members of the Board of Education, especially the democrats that I have supported for over 25 years. Has Farmington become the next Wisconsin? Facts: The Board and the Union agreed on a new contract without spending thousands of dollars in the arbitration process, thus saving the town money..lots of money. I'm sure the town of Farmington has, in the past, hired lawyers to represent the town at an enormous cost, when contracts are submitted to arbitration. Congratulations to both sides on this. Now the Board of Education wants to only allow "concessions", according to Mary Grace Reed, without due process? Due process is both sides agreeing to reopen the contract to NEGOTIATE, which the FEA has done, voluntarily. The Farmington Board of Education needs to stop making demands like spoiled children...do it my way or I'll take my bat and ball and go home and stop the lip service and get the job done...legally!
Robin Lindstedt March 22, 2011 at 06:01 PM
They should all get "doesn't play nice with others" on their report cards. :o)

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