MAT-SU — Teachers across the Mat-Su Borough School District are preparing to answer the question of if they are ready to strike.
A strike vote of Mat-Su Education Association members is currently underway and will continue until Friday. Over 1,100 MSEA members have three days to cast their vote as to whether or not they are prepared to strike at which point the election will be certified by the Anchorage League of Women Voters.
“The email the district sent today is counterproductive, unnecessary, and damaging to our goal of settling this contract. If they really want to put this behind us, as we do, then they would talk to our bargaining team rather than just tell one side of the story to our families,” said MSEA President Dianne Shibe. “Every single member I’ve spoken to would rather have a fair contract than go out on strike, but they are prepared to strike if the Board won’t come back and negotiate.”
The Mat-Su Borough School District and MSEA have been negotiating a new contract for 18 months prior to the beginning of the strike vote of MSEA members on Friday. Shibe said that she did not take lightly the email sent out to parents by the district. If a strike vote were to pass, Shibe said it would have to pass by an overwhelming majority for MSEA to consider striking.
“Settling this contract without a strike is our top priority so that we can continue educating our students,” said Shibe. “We have made concessions, bargained in good faith, and have remained ready to put this behind us. It is now completely on the School Board to do their jobs and settle this contract.”
If a vote of the MSEA ends up in favor of a teacher strike, the MSEA is required to give 72 hours notice to MSBSD. MSBSD Public Information Officer Jillian Morrissey sent out a message to parents Tuesday morning as well.
“Fortunately, there is still time for resolution and we will update parents as more information is available,” wrote Morrissey. “If there is a strike, MSEA is required to give at least 72 hours advance notice to the District. If the District receives such notice, or is earlier informed that the teachers have voted to strike, the District will provide parents further information.”
Morrissey wrote that the impasse happened on August 26 when MSEA negotiators did not agree to the ‘last, best’ offer from MSBSD that did not include a payscale raise for 2020, but instead offered a bonus.
“We’re so incredibly close to reaching an agreement, but the School Board
won’t come back to the table and finish the job,” said Shibe.
This is a developing story.