Teachers want to reopen talks in Meridian

There is still plenty to bargain over, the union president says.

broberts@idahostatesman.comJuly 4, 2013 

Luke Franklin, Meridian Education Association president, said Wednesday that he will write to Meridian trustees to request a return to discussions that began last February. He said teachers also may email board members asking them to reconsider their decision to end negotiations Monday.

Trustees declared an impasse in negotiations and imposed a contract.

"There are different steps we can take that won't disturb education of the students," Franklin told the Statesman.

Teachers say they were caught off-guard when Meridian trustees declared an impasse in negotiations and sent out contracts with the board's last offer to meet a July 1 state deadline for when teacher contracts must be issued.

"This heavy-handed power play on the part of the district is disrespectful to the teachers and students of Meridian," Franklin said in a statement earlier this week.

Teachers and trustees were $4 million apart on a contract, much of it money teachers wanted for pay increases based on the number of years educators had worked in the district. Teachers had made nearly $8 million in concessions as of Friday, including giving up on a 1.67 percent pay raise.

But Franklin said the trustees' decision left a lot of issues on the table.

District administrators say they simply don't have the money to meet teachers' demands, and continuing to sit down at the bargaining table would be dishonest.

"We don't want to bankrupt our district," Franklin said. "At the same time, there are several things I'd like to talk about that have nothing to do with money (and) would go a long with teacher trust."

Those issues include class sizes, caseloads for special education teachers and teacher preparation time, Franklin said.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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