As of Friday, October 17, 2014
PERRYDALE — The Perrydale School District and its teachers’ union may be headed toward mediation to approve a contract.
The two sides have been in negotiations since February and have yet to settle on terms for the current school year’s contract. The first mediation session is scheduled Nov. 5, said the district’s attorney, Bruce Zagar, with the Salem firm of Garrett Hemann Robertson.
The two sides have been unable to come to terms on salary, insurance and other changes in the contract, mostly language updates due to changes in the law and terminology.
Dean Deters, president of Perrydale Education Association, said the two sides aren’t far apart, but agreement has been elusive, nonetheless.
“We’ve given some proposals and they are not responding to offers,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say there is one issue blowing everything up,” Deters continued. “I don’t think there are huge differences. It’s just taken a long time.”
He said the major sticking points have revolved around “total compensation,” or salaries and insurance. Deters declined to offer specifics on what the association is asking for, citing the ongoing negotiations.
“As far as compensation, Perrydale teachers have received no salary increase (cost of living adjustment) in the last four years,” Deters said. “We’ve offered health insurance options that would save the district tens of thousands of dollars that would offset any increase in salary.”
Zagar said teachers are asking for both a salary boost and an increase in the district’s contribution toward health insurance. In the current contract — which has expired, but still is in effect without a new one to replace it — the district is paying $900 per month toward insurance costs.
“Those are obviously the biggest issues (salary and benefits), so they don’t have to be a great distance apart to be a significant issue,” Zagar said. “It’s safe to say that the association has wanted more than the district is willing to pay.”
Deters said he doesn’t think the association’s requests are out of line.
“We don’t feel like our proposals are something they can’t afford,” he said.
With more than seven months of fruitless negotiations behind them, the association and district will most likely move to mediation. Zagar said the two sides will meet with a mediator with the Oregon Employment Relations Board. He said the mediator will simply facilitate negotiations and cannot make binding decisions.
The association still is several steps away from a strike.
Under Oregon statute, mediation must continue for a minimum of 15 days and if an agreement can’t be reached in that time, either party can declare an impasse. If that declaration is made, both sides must submit their final offers. Seven days after that, if an agreement still is not found, a 30-day “cooling off” period begins. Only after the 30-day period ends can the association strike.