Where it counts - your position at the bargaining table
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?”