School district brings in mediatorThe Red Wing School District will bring in a mediator with the hope of settling negotiations with teacher union Education Minnesota Red Wing.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
The Red Wing School District will bring in a mediator with the hope of settling negotiations with teacher union Education Minnesota Red Wing.
Supt. Karsten Anderson announced Wednesday that the district has petitioned the Bureau of Mediation Services, a state agency, to send a mediator to meet with both the district and the union group to try to work out an agreeable deal.
“Both sides want it to be done as soon as possible,” Anderson said. “It’d be nice to get it done before the school year.”
The district’s master agreement with the teacher union expired June 30, 2011. Since then, the group has been working under provisions outlined in the 2009-2011 contract.
District and union representatives have been meeting fairly regularly since early October, union negotiator Tim Bowes said. The groups have stalled on issues including salary and leave, though Bowes said health insurance is the biggest sticking point.
“Once we work that out, the other things will fall into place,” he said.
Hearing the district petitioned a mediator wasn’t welcome news, Bowes said, though it wasn’t a shock either. Bowes said the teacher union had considered bringing in a mediator earlier in the negotiation process, but hadn’t done so yet.
“You’d rather work things out by yourself,” he said.
Still, Both Anderson and Bowes stressed that negotiations so far have been going well, and the mediator is simply there to bring in more ideas, thoughts and opinions.
“This has been very jovial, genial, professional and respectful,” Bowes said.
“We’ve made good progress in negotiations,” Anderson agreed, adding that some “fairly tricky issues” have already been settled.
“But we still have some unresolved issues,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better to have a third party.”
The mediator will spend a few days in the district this summer, meeting with each side before presenting recommendations. Neither side is obligated to accept any recommendation the mediator offers.