Representatives from the Winona Education Association recently stated they will file for mediation as the next step in their contract negotiations with Winona Area Public Schools.
The ongoing negotiations concern the teachers’ contract for the 2018-2019 school year.
The most recent offer made by the district was for a contract that included no salary increases during the first year, but did include a $1000 stipend for each full-time employee, even if they were entitled to no step increase. In the second year, teachers would receive a one percent salary increase, as well as their regular step increase. This means two steps for those eligible for a step in year one.
The union representatives made no counter proposal and immediately asked for a neutral party to come in to mediate the negotiations. Said the union co-president, “We don’t think it’s fair that you’re talking about balancing (budget mistakes) on the backs of teachers. ”
Teachers in the district have been working without a contract for more than a year and are moving forward with negotiations despite their being very little money in the budget for increases. Two area schools were closed because of budget cuts and the upcoming school year is expected to generate less money than in previous years due to a decline in enrollment.
Now that mediation has been requested, the union will need to contact the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services to request a mediator be scheduled to oversee the next meeting between the two sides. The mediator will “create an atmosphere conducive to problem-solving and make sure both parties have a clear understanding of the issues. ”