Exploring the Benefits of Regional Negotiation Forums
Exploring the benefits of regional negotiation forums
In 2006, a new trend appeared on the horizon for Oregon school boards. Districts in two regions - Southern Oregon and East Multnomah County - have recently improved their bargaining advantage by participating in regional negotiation forums.
At forums, districts come together periodically to discuss regionally specific union strategies and the districts’ responses to those strategies. With this information in hand, districts can better formulate their own responses to regional union tactics and agendas as they develop.
OSBA staff believes one of the primary advantages to the forum in Southern Oregon is that it allowed advance notice of union proposals and allowed districts to compare union proposals.
It’s common for participants of a regional forum to discover that several districts have received identical language proposals. This allows members to better prepare for these proposals, and to distinguish truly local issues from regional agenda items.
Regional forums, organized and facilitated by OSBA’s Human Resource Development staff, can counterbalance the collective power of OEA bargaining councils in those regions. Bargaining councils are groups of local OEA affiliates that create regional bargaining agendas and enforce those agendas in each of the component districts.
Districts initially joined and participated in regional negotiation forums in response to bargaining councils, but regional forums also provide a great opportunity for cooperation in regions not dominated by bargaining councils. OEA’s UniServe staff works regionally (through a bargaining council or not), so it makes good sense for districts to work together on a regional basis.