Teachers, district agree to mediator after stalemate
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage School District and teachers’ union have agreed to bring in a federal mediator after contract negotiations stalled last week.
Officials from the Anchorage Education Association and the school district said they hope an agreement will be reached with help from a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The union, which represents about 3,300 educators in the city, is seeking for teachers to have a greater voice in the selection of curriculum and programs, as well as more autonomy in the classroom. The union has also been at odds with the district over salaries and health benefits.
“We’re kind of deadlocked,” said Tom Klaameyer, the head of the union. “We’re at the point where it feels like we’re just spinning our wheels. We’re both saying the same things and we’re both not satisfied with the movement of the other side, so we’re getting nowhere.”
The two sides have been in negotiations since April. The union’s latest contract expired in June, though teachers continue to work under its terms.
“We have every interest in reaching a contract settlement,” said Todd Hess, the district’s chief human resource officer. “We think we have top-notch educators in the district and they’re out there doing a good job.”
The district is seeking to be fair and equitable, but it has financial constraints that officials don’t always have control over, Hess said.
A mediator was brought in 2012, helping the sides reach a three-year contract agreement, Klaameyer said. The mediator will go between the parties to try to find a compromise, he said.
“It’s a normal and prescribed part of the collective bargaining process for negotiations nationwide,” Hess said.
In the meantime, the union has no plans for a strike, Klaameyer said.
“It’s not even on our radar,” Klaameyer said. “The process of good-faith bargaining has to continue. I know some people are frustrated with how long it’s taking. You’ve got to let the process work.”
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com