Committee Seeks Mediator In Teacher Contract Talks
By: Alex Scofield
The Sandwich School Committee has unanimously voted to seek mediation through the Massachusetts Division of Labor Relations in its contract negotiations with the Sandwich teachers’ union.
Before a mediator is granted, the Division of Labor Relations must first determine that the two sides could not come to an agreement on their own.
The school committee took the vote on Tuesday evening in an executive session. Members Shaun P. Cahill and Jessica A. Linehan both abstained from voting, as they have spouses who are employed by the schools.
“We’ve filed a petition for a mediator and now we have to wait and see,” said S. Aleta Barton of the school committee’s negotiation subcommittee. “If an impasse exists, they assign a mediator to assist in reaching an agreement.”
Neither Ms. Barton nor school committee Chairman Robert F. Simmons Jr. would comment on why the services of a mediator were needed.
All Ms. Barton would say was that a mediator will provide an independent perspective between the two sides.
“The mediator sits with each group, gets input from each, and instead of sitting face to face, you have a mediator who goes between the two sides, seeking conciliation,” she said.
The Sandwich Educators Association’s current contract with the town expires at the end of June.
The negotiation for the current contract began in January 2007 and was not completed until April of 2008, forcing teachers to work under the terms of the previous contract for an extra nine months. That contract was settled through the assistance of a mediator as well, one who was not brought on until negotiations had been at a standstill for nearly a year.
President of the Sandwich Taxpayers Association Richard W. Augustine, who as early as last year urged the school committee to seek mediation in their negotiations with the union, said he was pleased to hear about the move.
“I encouraged them to negotiate fairly but to seek a bottom line that is predicated on their budget, and if they weren’t able to make that work, then to seek a mediator,” he said. “Otherwise, what you end up having is something that drags on and on for way too long.”
Sandwich Educators Association President Laura R. Carlyle told the Enterprise that she will not discuss ongoing labor negotiations.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.