Where it counts - your position at the bargaining table
July 30, 2009
Boards have a huge responsibility to be effective, informed advocates at the bargaining table during Oregon’s budget shortfall, since 83 percent of a district budget is usually spent on labor contracts.
“The major trend in bargaining is to make financial decisions that are sustainable during a recession and our uncertain school funding situation,” said Lisa Freiley, OSBA Director of Legal, Labor & Employment Services. “And, use student learning as the ultimate filter for tough decisions.”
Here’s more advice for bargaining teams:
- Create alternatives for any part of your contracts impacting budgets, in case funding decreases in mid-contract.
- Don’t finalize any major financial agreements such as salary/step increases until revenue projections are more stable.
- Make sure your contracts include a Funding Clause as a financial “safety net.” The clause, triggered by revenue decreases, allows boards to re-negotiate economic portions (salary, insurance, etc.) of labor contracts if there is insufficient revenue to fund the agreement. [Sample Clauses]
- Bargain for insurance caps to control rising health care costs.
- Reducing days is a big cost-cutting remedy - but very tricky. Your contract may not allow it.
- Use the Interim Bargaining process to resolve issues.
- Meet early with your unions about layoff and recall procedures. You may find differences in contract interpretation, so iron these out now. Make sure personnel files are updated.
- When facing tough bargaining decisions, keep these questions in the forefront: “What is the impact on student learning?” and “How does this affect our ability to keep good staff?”
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