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Negotiations 101

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Negotiations 101

It's that time of year again! While many of you are likely counting down the days until Spring Break, our negotiations team is gearing up for negotiations in order to bring you the best tentative agreement they can, and they'll likely still be working on it into the summer.

In years past we've seen plenty of misconceptions on the negotiations process and quite a few upset members at the end of the process. We don't think this article is going to alleviate all of your concerns, but we hope that it will help you to make a more informed decision on the tentative agreement when it finally goes for a vote.

Even if you are a veteran teacher, there is probably something here for you to learn as well. The IBB process is still fairly new to our district, and UTW leadership has been working diligently to create a thoughtful plan that we hope will lead to the best contract possible in the current financial and political climate.

Important Dates

  • March 31: Notice to Negotiate Deadline
  • July 31: Statutory Date of Impasse

What is IBB and Why Use It?

UTW and the district decided to try and use Interest Based Bargaining instead of traditional negotiation over a decade ago in an attempt to improve communication between both teams and solve more problems. This has obviously not been a perfect process, but current UTW leadership believes that this is still the most viable way to get the best contract for teachers.

IBB is based on a few core principals designed to improve communication and focus on problem solving instead of competition and conflict.

Those core issues are:

  • Teams must have the authority to make decisions for their respective parties.
  • Issues must be presented instead of proposals.
  • All relevant information should be shared among both teams.
  • There should be a continued focus on problem solving instead of competing.
  • Less difficult/non-monetary issues should be resolved first.
  • Communications to the public should be joint statements.

Clear communication from the IBB team has been an issue in the past. This year, we're going to push the issue with the district's team, but may revise our strategy when and if needed.

Beyond that, both parties are free to pick the members of their teams as needed. The district usually gets a mix of HR personnel, building administrators, and curriculum leaders. Their team reports back to BOE as necessary.

According to our Constitution and Bylaws, our president appoints team members for approval from E-Board and Pro-Reps. We just approved the new team at the January Pro-Rep Meeting.

Here are the people that will be serving on the team. Our president selected these members because she feels that they are widely respected, professional, willing to have hard conversations with the BOE team, and will work to come up with solutions to the issues presented.

  • Kimberly Howard (UTW President)
  • Greg Jones (KNEA Uniserv Director)
  • Brent Lewis (North High, Business)
  • Diane Smith(Ortiz, PE & AMAC, Curriculum Coach)
  • Jennifer Porter (Allen Elementary, Sped)
  • Jonna Lakous (Curtis Middle, Math)
  • Susie McDonough (Linwood Elementary, 4th Grade)

Negotiations Process

Brace yourselves. This next chart is fairly complex, but it goes over what may or may not happen during the negotiations process.

The blue items represent the IBB process, the green items represent the Tentative Agreement Vote process, the yellow items represent the Impasse process, and the red items represent the Fact Finding Process.

State Mandates

According to Kansas Statutes, there are a set amount of topics that are required for negotiation. Even though the IBB process can open the door for more topics to be considered, the only ones that the district are required to negotiate are on the following chart.

There are some topics that the state says that can be negotiated, but each party is limited to only three choices from the following list.

Lastly, as long as both parties agree to them, other topics can be added for negotiations as long as they abide by K.S.A. 72-5413(I)(1). Section C is shown down below. This language makes it possible for ANYTHING to be under negotiation as long as both parties agree that it falls under "properly related to professional service."

UTW Negotiation Priorities for 2020

We'll be using the data from the workload survey in conjunction with the results of two upcoming listening sessions to set our negotiation priorities for 2020.

How You Can Help

  • Stay informed: follow us on social media, read our newsletter, read district notices, stay up-to-date on what is happening with the legislature.
  • Reach out to BOE Members: The BOE wants and needs to hear from teachers throughout this process in order for them to make the best decisions for teachers. Here is a link to their contact information.
  • Attend a BOE Meeting: Meeting times and location are at this link. Email bmason@utw-ks.org if you would like to speak at a BOE meeting.
  • Attend a Negotiations Meeting: Each meeting is communicated in advance to the public, and anyone may attend the meeting (not all meetings are after school).
  • Be Ready: While we hope for a quick negotiations process that benefits both parties, it is always possible that negotiations may break down. In the event that we are unable to come to an agreement, we'll need to be ready to mobilize online and in-person.

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