Negotiations 2015

Explanation of process from 2012
Presentation at May 2015 Gen mbr meeting
How Binding Arbitration works and history
CT Teacher Negotiations Law stat 10-153a

Negotiations 2015 Team

Primary Negotiator: Suzanne Haviland, CEA Uniserv

Karen De Felice, WEA Co-President, SHS
John Horrigan, WEA Co-President, CMS
Diann Drenosky, former WEA President, retired
Lori Buskey, WEA VP Coleytown Elementary
Dave Willick, SHS

2015 Negotiations Timeline
– Early June: Survey of WEA membership
– Late June: Bump & Run
– July 17: Westport’s start date
– September 5: date by which we need to name our mediator
– Sept 16: Mediation date
– Sept 30, 2015: Arbitration start date
– Oct 17, 2015: First Arbitration session
– Nov 11, 2015: arbitration ends
– Dec 1, 2015  latest possible date for a decision to be delivered

Explanation of process and timelines:

Dear WEA colleague: 

As you might be aware, this is a year for the WEA to negotiate a new contract which will go into effect in the 2016-17 school year. Your 2015 negotiations team has 4 teacher members: John Horrigan (CMS),  Karen DeFelice (SHS), Dave Willick (SHS) and Lori Buskey (CES). We also have recently retired WEA tri-president Diann Drenosky on our team. Rounding out our group are three CEA uniserve reps: Suzanne Haviland (lead negotiator), Eric Fisher and Brendan Murphy. Between us we have years of experience negotiating WEA contracts and Suzanne, Eric and Brendan work with other locals like Wilton and Ridgefield to help them negotiate their contracts.

We have been working on negotiations since last June. We did a negotiations survey where all members had an opportunity to weigh in on what they would like us to emphasize during negotiations. We worked over the summer to develop a set of proposals, including new language and salary proposals which we then presented to the BOE team. The BOE team is compromised of Dr. Landon, new HR director John Bayers, TSO businees manager Elio Longo, BOE members Brett Aronow and Karen Klein as well as some representatives of the Westport RTM and Board of Finance. Tom Mooney, the BOE attorney, is their lead negotiator.

The entire process of negotiations is strictly governed by state statute. There are firm dates which are established that dictate when we have to meet and timelines for us to make decisions. We started our meetings with the BOE team in August. At this point we have had a number of meetings to exchange language. Both sides have presented new language and also insurance and salary proposals. We will wrap up our first round of scheduled meetings on Tuesday Sept 8th. Needless to say we are still not seeing eye to eye. The BOE has proposed some strong changes to our health insurance. In response, the WEA met with our health insurance consultant to help us understand the full implications of what they have proposed and to help us make an informed counter proposal. We also have several outstanding issues to resolve on salary and language proposals.

Our next step is called Mediation which will happen on Wed Sept 16th at 5 pm. During mediation each team will be in a different room. We have agreed upon a mediator (picked from an official CT State list) who will go back and forth between the rooms and try to move us toward a settlement.  He can help us understand how our proposals will fare during arbitration which will be the next stage of the negotiations process if mediation fails. If we are unable to reach a settlement, then all agreements reached at mediation are off the table and we would enter the arbitration phase with all issues from mediation back on the table.

If all goes perfectly, (which hardly every happens),  we will emerge sometime on Thursday morning with an agreement that both sides can live with and we will bring it to the WEA membership for a vote.

If mediation fails to bring a solution, we will have to enter the arbitration phase. Each side will pick an arbitrator from an approved list and then we will both agree on one neutral arbitrator. We will have to choose our advocate arbitrator by Oct 3rd and our first session will be on Oct 17th.

If we fail to reach an agreement during mediation on Sept 16th, we will still have a chance between Sept 17th and Oct 17th when our arbitration actually begins to settle informally at which point we will still be able to bring the agreement to the membership for a vote.

For arbitration. the WEA will prepare extensive supporting documents and get ready to argue our case before the arbitration panel. At that point it will be out of our hands and the neutral arbitrator will eventually make a decision that both the BOE and the WEA will have to accept..thus the term binding arbitration. Any settlement that happens after Oct 17th, will NOT be voted on by the WEA membership and will only need the agreement of the BOE and WEA negotiators.

We are hopeful that mediation will be successful and that come next week we will have some good news.
Save the date: There will be a general membership meeting on Monday Oct 12th at which point we hope to be able to vote to ratify a new contract or discuss what our options are as we proceed with the arbitration phase.
Attached here is a powerpoint outlining the negotiations process and a document from the CEA explaining the history of arbitration in CT. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the negotiating team.

– Your 2015 negotiations team.

Timeline for negotiations:  all of these dates are mandated by state law and are established in order to have a signed contract in place before the school budget is set for the following year.
July 17: Westport’s start date.
September 5: date by which we need to name our mediator.
Sept 16: Our mediation date
Sept 30, 2015: Arbitration start date  – date by which we need to have had our mediation and the date by which each side needs to name its advocate arbitrator.
Oct 17, 2015: actual arbitration begins
Nov 11, 2015: arbitration ends
Dec 1, 2015  latest possible date for a decision to be delivered

The actual arbitration date is still to be established – it will occur in October, if necessary, with the entire process concluded and an arbitration decision issued by early December.