Quolke's Corner 11/26/11

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QUOLKE’S CORNER #117
FACT FINDING UPDATE NOVEMBER
 
 
Almost two weeks ago, I outlined our attempts to come to a contract settlement through the use of a federal mediator. Those meetings with the mediator, while lasting to 4am one day and almost midnight another day, continually resulted in the district rejecting all of our offers and proceeding with the next step of negotiations….Fact-Finding. 
The Fact-Finding hearings were schedule for Monday and Tuesday of this week. In this step of the negotiations process a neutral fact-finder listens to both sides present their case and final proposals to resolve this negotiation. After the fact finding, the attorneys for both sides submit final briefs and the Fact Finder makes a ruling. Once the Fact Finder makes a ruling that becomes the new contract, unless one side or the other votes No.   Members of the CTU will have the opportunity to vote Yes or No on the ruling and the Board of Education will also have the opportunity to vote Yes or No. If one side or the other votes No, then the two sides go back to the negotiations table with the assistance of a federal mediator. This process could easily take 2-3 months and likely result in both sides being back at the table.
On Monday, the first day of Fact Finding, the Fact Finder (as required) asked both sides if they preferred to use the scheduled time to have her mediate a potential settlement or if we preferred to proceed directly to the Fact-Finding hearing. As had always been our position, we indicated a willingness to do mediation as did the district. We then spent two long days in mediation with the Fact Finder, as she tried to aid the two sides in settling this contract. 
In the end we were still unable to reach agreement.
In the end, the District chose to walk away without a settlement and now proceed with Fact Finding that has been rescheduled for January….YES…January, only days before implementing Phase 3 of their cuts.
In the end, the District chose to have ZERO, instead of the settlement necessary to restore critical programs, like pre-school, transportation and spring sports for students. 
In the end, the District chose ZERO instead of the settlement necessary to allow us to focus on and gain crucial help for a much needed levy campaign. 
In the end, the District chose ZERO instead of the settlement necessary to recall some nurses, parent liaisons, and social workers that work with our students and our families on a daily basis. 
In the end, the District chose ZERO, instead of the settlement necessary to bring immediate labor peace so that we can move forward and focus on the collaboration started around our Race to the Top work and school reform initiatives.
In the end, The Cleveland Teachers Union had an offer (and has had an offer on the table since October 11th) that would:
·         Save pre-school
·         Restore high school transportation
·         Restore spring sports
·         Recall nurses, family liaisons, and social workers that are critical to our students and our families
·         Enables the district to preserve programs that directly impact students
·         Prevent the upheaval, disruption to schools and classrooms, and loss of students that will inevitably result from the cuts that are anticipated in December and January.
 
In the end, the District chose ZERO instead of choosing what is good for kids.
 
As we approach this Thanksgiving season, I want to express my personal thanks to all of our CTU members who have time and time again stepped up and shown their support for our students, our schools, our union, and our community. Thanks to our negotiating team members, who put in countless hours over the past few weeks and months and remained focused throughout on obtaining a settlement that will be “Good for students and fair for teachers”. And thanks to all our parents, faith-based leaders, elected leaders, business and community leaders who have reached out to me in the past months to open a dialog on the issues that are good for our schools, our communities, and our students and that will move this district forward.  
 
In Union,
 
David