MAT-SU — Teachers in the Mat-Su Borough School District are unhappy with the district’s latest contract negotiations which the district calls its last and best offer. Mat-Su Education Association President Dianne Shibe condemned the district’s delay tactics in negotiating a contract that expired in the spring of 2019.
“Trani telling our members what the proposals were, that angered a lot of people because our bargaining team was not able to go back to the members and say hey this is what their last best offer is, they just rolled it out with all of their opinions,” said Shibe, referring to new district superintendent Dr. Randy Trani. “We did throw another proposal back at them even though they’ve already said that what they gave us was their best and final offer.”
Shibe said that on Friday, MSEA sent out a survey to its over 1,100 members asking for reaction to the district’s last, best offer. As of noon on Monday, over 500 responses had been returned on whether or not to take a vote on a strike.
“We’ve already got plans in place for the strike,” said Shibe. “What would happen is we’d choose a day to strike and then we give the district 72 hours notice that we will not be coming into work and then we walk out of the schools with picket signs.”
Shibe described a strike vote as the “last and least desirable option we have left,” and that the MSEA bargaining team remains committed to finding a contract solution that does not require a strike vote. A vote by members on whether or not to strike could happen as early as next week and go into action as early as October if an overwhelming majority of members were to vote in favor. Shibe hopes that the pandemic and struggle of the current school year will be taken into effect in compounding increases. No schedule has been set out between the school district and MSEA to continue negotiations, and Shibe detests the delay in negotiations by the school district.
“If these are the tactics and practices we can expect from the superintendent and the school board, we are going to have no choice but to take decisive action,” said Shibe. “There is a lot of frustration, anger, and disappointment among our members right now. To be treated this way while also navigating teaching during a pandemic is salt in the wound.”
The Classified Employees Association worked without a contract for 929 days, and Shibe hopes to ratify a new contract before moving forward with a strike vote.