Mediation Successful for HNEA and USD 489
It took 14 negotiating sessions and two failed votes, but the Hays National Education Association (HNEA) and the USD 498 Board of Education finally reached an agreement through mediation for the 2015-2016 contract. There were hours of closed discussions. The HNEA agreed to all of the terms requested by the union, which included simplified sick day payouts and reduced retirement health benefits.
There are concerns about passing the agreement onto to votes and one participant noted that with uncertainty at the state level, a guarantee could be moot. According to the mediator assigned to the district, there is no way to make the situation positive; based on what the state is doing. The contract will now be presented to the teachers in the district to vote on whether or not they will accept the new terms. One person noted the agreement will be presented “fairly and factually,” without any bias for or against the new terms.
As with most teachers’ union and district disputes, there were concerns over a variety of issues. And as usual, the districts place a high priority on the well-being of the students and the taxpayers in the community. The teachers’ unions ask to be treated fairly and comparably to nearby districts. Sticking points often revolved around salaries and benefits, and in this case, it was the retirement health benefits that played a key role.
Despite concerns a vote might not get the new contract approved, both sides remain hopeful things have moved forward and could be resolved now that a proposal is in place.