Contract negotiations drag on
Dec. 16, 2010By Tim Simard Observer staff
Members of the Chittenden South Education Association, the teachers’ coalition for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, planned to meet Wednesday afternoon to learn the legalities of striking and to consider ways to foster community support.
A letter obtained by the Observer invited union members to hear from Donna Watts, a lawyer with the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, about the legal details of a strike. The meeting was set to take place at Champlain Valley Union High School after press deadline.
After the presentation, CSEA members planned to gather and create a list of residents from CSSU towns who “support teachers and education,” according to the letter. Residents on the list will later receive information prepared by the CSEA about the contract status, as well as requests to contact school boards and ask them to settle a fair contract.
Lisa Bisbee, the lead negotiator for the teachers’ union, did not return phone calls prior to press deadline.
Meanwhile, the CSSU negotiating team issued a press release Tuesday detailing negotiation offers at a Dec. 1 contract meeting. The CSSU board offered teachers a total salary increase of 1.86 percent for the current school year, with individual raises allotted based on step increases. For the 2011-2012 school year, the supervisory union offered a 3 percent bump in total salary.
Teachers countered by asking for a 3.25 percent increase for both school years, according to the press release.
Both parties agreed that teachers should contribute 13 percent for health care premiums this year. But the CSSU Board asked teachers to increase the contribution to 15 percent in 2011-2012, while teachers wanted the figure to remain at 13 percent.
The CSSU Board and CSEA negotiators also struggled to agree on early retirement incentives and whether teachers should receive automatic pay increases while the contract is under negotiation.
Teachers have been working without a contract since the end of June. The next meeting between both sides is scheduled for late next month.