Prosser, Washington Teachers Headed to Mediation
Tuesday, September, 15, 2015
The Prosser teachers union and representatives for the Prosser School District will use mediation to determine details of the new contract, in an effort to avoid a potential teachers’ strike. The groups announced their intention to try mediation recently when talks broke down and nearly all of the teachers voted to strike as of September 8 if no contract agreement is reached by the 7th.
School Superintendent Ray Tolcacher told the media talks didn’t really break down, but mediators are being called in so a fresh pair of eyes can get a look at the situation. Contract negotiations have been ongoing for weeks leading up to the August expiration of the current contract.
As of the start of mediation, there is already some agreement between the groups. Both sides agree on optional and mandatory staff days and time needed for professional development. They also see eye-to-eye on an additional $1500 for special education teachers. Issues still in question include calendar issues, workday hours, some details regarding leave, and the major issue, teacher salaries. The union is requesting $650,000 in extra pay, which is approximately double what the district has offered. The union also wants more than $50,000 pay increases for extra duties, which is approximately 10 times more than what the district has offered.
The union issued a statement after negotiations recently ended and it was nearly solely focused on salary issues. Some are concerned inadequate salaries will cause teachers to come and go. The union also criticized lawmakers for not properly funding education in the area.