Vote comes after union, board reached a tentative agreement that averted a strike
BURLINGTON – Burlington’s teachers today agreed to ratify the agreement reached last week with the school board that averted a strike and ensures a contract through August 2017.
“I am so proud of my fellow members,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the president of the Burlington Education Association. “We showed that when we stand together, we can do great things. I am also pleased that we and the school board have reached a settlement that not only averted a strike, but also paved the way for all of us to work together on behalf of the city’s children.”
Details of the agreement – which replaces a set of employment policies imposed by the school board won’t be released until it is also ratified by the Burlington School Board.
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Negotiators for both sides worked hard to reach deal for a one-year pact that will keep schools open
BURLINGTON – Burlington’s teachers will not go on strike tomorrow as they and the city’s school board reached a tentative agreement for a one-year contract.
“I am pleased to tell Burlington students, parents and residents that school will begin on time tomorrow morning,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the president of the Burlington Education Association, the teachers’ union. “I know this has been a hard road, but we’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the school board.”
Details of the agreement won't be released until it is ratified by both parties.
“This is terrific news for Burlington’s students,” Brock said. “In the end, the board shares the same deep devotion to the city’s children as we do, and our teams were able to reach an agreement that will allow us all to devote ourselves to making our schools even better for all of our students.”
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In unfair labor practice charge filed with Vermont Labor Board, teachers assert school board imposed working conditions before legally allowed
MONTPELIER – The Burlington School Board committed six unfair labor practices – including multiple attempts to thwart a settlement – in its rush to walk away from contract talks with the city’s teachers, according to an unfair labor practice charge filed today with the Vermont Labor Relations Board.
The charge, filed by the Burlington Education Association, said that what started out as an attempt to reach a quick, one-year deal for the current school year turned into protracted roadblocks to a settlement that ultimately ended when the board walked away from the table and imposed an employment policy before it was legally allowed to do so.
“From the start, more than 16 months ago, all we wanted was to have a one-year contract in place this year,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the union’s president. “We knew, and the board certainly knew, that the changes in health insurance looming next year means that we have some complicated bargaining ahead of us. It’s too bad the board chose division, delay, and roadblocks this year.”
The filing comes a day after hundreds of the union’s members voted overwhelmingly to strike Oct. 20 if a tentative contract agreement for the current year isn’t reached. The parties are scheduled to meet with a mediator on Oct. 19. The teachers, for their part, are hoping to settle. “I certainly hope the board has the same goal.”
In its filing, the union said the board:
“It’s too bad that the board has chosen the course it has, because instead of starting this school year in chaos and disruption, we could have had a contract in place,” Brock said. “It seems that the more than $50,000 the board’s leadership has spent on an anti-union consultant, a former superintendent and a bargaining adviser has brought them to this place.”
Brock said that she knows members of the board share the teachers’ dedication to the city’s students and she implores them to come to the table Wednesday ready to bargain a mutually acceptable settlement.
The ULP filing may be downloaded here.
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My name is Fran Brock, and I teach history at Burlington High School. I am also the president of the Burlington Education Association, the union that 400 of my colleagues and I proudly belong to.
This afternoon, we voted to authorize our negotiating team to call a strike no earlier than October 20 if a negotiated settlement is not reached during our session with a mediator.
We did not ever think it would come to this, but the leadership of this board has decided that division, political gamesmanship, and walking away and imposing employment conditions was a better course than settling during more than a year of talks.
Teachers take this action with thoughtfulness and sadness. We are acutely aware that a strike is disruptive for students, families, and for the community. But we can no longer stand by and allow the School Board to continue to demean us, to disrespect us, to devalue us and the teaching profession.
Union’s last resort comes after board chose imposition over negotiation
BURLINGTON – Members of the Burlington Education Association today voted to authorize a strike beginning Oct. 20 if a negotiated contract agreement isn’t reached.
“This afternoon, we voted to authorize our negotiating team to call a strike no earlier than Oct. 20 if a negotiated settlement is not reached during our upcoming bargaining session called by the mediator,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the Burlington Education Association president. “We did not ever think it would come to this, but the leadership of the school board has decided that division, political gamesmanship and walking away and imposing employment conditions was a better course than settling during more than a year of talks.”
Brock noted that there is still a chance to avoid a strike. “Teachers take this action with thoughtfulness and sadness,” she said. “We are acutely aware that a strike is disruptive for students, families, and for the community. There is a chance to avoid this strike, and it will require the board’s negotiating team to approach our scheduled mediation with a singular desire: obtaining a negotiated contract settlement.”
Mediator Ira Lobel called both the union and the board to a negotiating session that is to begin Oct. 19.
“I pledge that members of our team, as they always have, are willing and ready to roll up their sleeves and stay at the table as long as meaningful bargaining takes place,” Brock said.
The vote to strike comes after the school board became only the 21st in Vermont history to walk away from talks and impose employment policies for the current school year. As it happens, this board also imposed employment policies faster than any of its counterparts in Vermont history.
“As the men and women who work in our city’s schools every day, our first and primary priority is teaching Burlington’s children. That’s why we sought a swift, 1-year renewal of our contract more than a year ago,” Brock said. “We thought the board shared our desire to avoid a disruption in our school year. We hope that they will do what it takes to prevent it from happening.”
Last week, School Board Commissioner Miriam Stoll rightly said “this is a critical time for the district and we need to pull together to move forward. This fact is indisputable.”
Indeed, it is indisputable. Unfortunately, she and her fellow board members have brought us where we are today. And while we firmly believe we can reach a contract settlement for the balance of the school year, the board’s leadership continues to flex political muscle rather than seek respectful common ground.
We are the educators of Burlington, Vermont. We strive daily to build the schools that Burlington's kids deserve.