Teacher contract negotiations halted

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Negotiations between the South-Western City Schools Board of Education and the South-Western Education Association (SWEA) have come to a standstill.

The parties, along with federal mediators, met on Sept. 24. Mediators George Albu and Don Ellenberger determined that no further progress could be made at this time.

"After nine bargaining sessions, we are deeply disappointed that we have not reached an agreement in these contract negotiations," said SWEA President Rolla Beach. "Over the last three years, our members have made great sacrifices. In light of this history, they deserve a fair contract."

Board President Jim Lester said the board was not involved at the table on Sept. 24.

"I have no idea what happened today," he said.

Beach or district officials would not comments on the terms of the contract.

"The board has no comment on negotiations at this time," said Sandy Nekoloff, executive director of communications with SWCS. "They tend not to comment on negotiations during the process."

The previous contract ended on June 30. That contract was for two years and gave the employees a 1 percent pay increase in the first year and a 2 percent increase for the second year.

"That contract was very disappointing for us," Beach commented.

The board and SWEA have agreed to extend the previous contract until they agree on a new one.

The SWEA represents professional educators including teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, tutors, school nurses, and other certified employees of the district. However, most of the members are teachers.

They decided to bring in federal mediators, at no cost to the district, after negotiations that took place Aug. 14. The neutral third-party comes from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which is an agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation.

Beach said both parties will have to make some decisions about what happens next. He said they are not considering a strike.

"It’s a great concern we cannot reach an agreement on the table at this time," said Beach. "It’s up to the mediator to call future bargaining sessions. The decision is in their hands."

No future bargaining dates have been scheduled by the mediators at this time.

Dedra Cordle contributed to this article.

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