Representatives of District 191 and leaders of the Burnsville Education Associate (BEA) teachers’ union have been meeting to reach agreement on a new contract. Here are answers to some questions we’ve been asked about the process.
Why is it taking this long to negotiate a contract?
Negotiators are working through a number of complex contract language issues and these things take time. Also, both sides agreed to focus on the levy referendum during the fall which delayed our process by a couple of months.
Why won’t the district give the teachers a contract?
The district does not give teachers a contract. A contract is created through a negotiation process. A team of union leaders meets with a district team. Each team has some goals in mind for the contract. There is equal responsibility on both sides to work together and come to an agreement that results in a new contract.
Why hasn’t the district shared information about what the issues are?
In a collective bargaining process, negotiations are not done in public. Out of respect for the process, the district has not been sharing information from these sessions.
Why are teachers not being allowed to work outside of school hours? “Work to Rule” is when union leadership directs its members not to do any work outside of their contract hours or for which they do not receive additional compensation. This is completely directed by union leadership. This is in no way a directive or expectation of the district.
Why hasn’t the district shared that information with parents about “Work to Rule”?
Because it is an action by the union leadership, not by the district.
Will student and family events be canceled?
Principals and program directors are working to find volunteers and non-teaching staff who will help make as many events as possible occur. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact your children’s principal or program director.
Is there a connection between negotiations and the budget process?
No. This year there is some overlap with timing, although that usually does not happen. The budget process begins in January each year with assumptions for revenue and expenditures for the next school year. Every year, school budgets must be finalized by June 30 for the upcoming school year which begins July 1.
What is ULA (Unrequested Leave of Absence)? What is tenure? Are they the same thing?
No. ULA and tenure are not the same. Here are definitions:
Unrequested Leaves of Absence (ULA) are layoffs with recall rights for tenured teachers. These occur when positions are discontinued, there is a decline in enrollment, or there are budget reductions. Through June 30, 2019, the process is defined under statute 122A.40 and is solely based on seniority. Both probationary and continuing contract (tenured) teachers may be impacted by current statute language for layoffs. New statute language requires districts and unions to negotiate a plan prior to the 2019 expiration date and this discussion is part of current negotiations. Statute is silent on what districts and unions must include and agree to in the plan that determines the ULA implementation process. It is expected that both probationary and continuing contract (tenured) teachers will still be impacted by layoffs.
Tenure is the common term used for continuing contract rights as defined under state statute 122A.40. Tenure occurs after a teacher has completed the probationary period and has been offered a contract. A tenured teacher may either be terminated for cause as defined within the statute which includes progressive discipline or gross misconduct, or they may resign. Since this is defined by state law, it is not subject to local negotiations.
Probation is defined under state statute 122A.40 as the time period in which districts may release a teacher for any reason. Teachers must complete three consecutive years within a district to complete their initial probationary period. If a teacher has already completed their initial probationary period and accepts a position in a new district they have one (1) year of probation in that district. Since this is defined by state law, it is not subject to local negotiations.
Are ULA & tenure issues in current negotiations?
Tenure is defined by state law, so it is not part of negotiations. The district and union leaders are required by state law to negotiate Unrequested Leaves of Absence (ULA) as part of the contract prior to 2019. That is part of current negotiations.
What happens next with negotiations?
We are continuing to actively negotiate. Everyone wants a settlement and to find resolution with a new contract.