District 15 and DTU Still at Odds Over When Negotiations Will Continue
A press release was sent out by District 15 calling for the District 15 Transportation Union to come back to the negotiating table. The union says the request "doesn't make sense to our drivers and aides."
Late afternoon Friday, March 15, District 15 sent out two releases; one regarding its desire to move up the contract negotiation timetable with the District 15 Transportation Union (DTU), and the second to provide clarification about the Reduction in Force (RIF) notices to be sent out to the close to 200 school bus drivers and aides that work for the school district.
The first release was attributable to District 15 School Board President Tim Millar, the second to District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson.
The DTU sent out a release within hours to publically respond to the information sent out by D15.
"While the next bargaining session has been scheduled for April 16, the board agreed unanimously [in executive session on March 13] to invite [the] DTU to return to negotiations as soon as possible, as early as the week of March 18," said Millar in the statement.
Millar said the school board team is, "willing and available, to negotiate in the evening, on weekends and through Spring Break in order to make progress toward a contract agreement that is fair and in the best interests of all District 15 stakeholders, particularly our students and families," Millar said.
DTU President Carin Ulrich responded in the DTU release by stating, "There are five reasons why the stated intent of [Millar's] letter doesn't make sense to our drivers and aides."
Ulrich's list included the following points:
1) During the first (and most recent) formal negotiations on February 25 and 27, D15 presented a contract proposal that eliminated nearly every agreement the DTU and D15 had in the past. Ulrich said the district has not provided, "any substantive explanation for why it chose to strike historic agreements that were written to provide a safe, reliable, professional, effecient and collaborative transportation department.
2) Ulrich claimed D15 continues to confuse the public by claiming its decision to potentially outsource transportation was due to "fiscal responsibility" but after the second round of bids were received from outside transportation companies on Friday, March 15, the union believes millions would be saved by keeping transportation in-house.
3) "The District has refused to retract its untruthful and highly inflammatory February 28 press release regarding negotiations with DTU. Ulrich referred to the fact that as of 3 p.m., Friday, March 15, the release was still available on the D15 website.
4) Authorization of RIF notices at the March 13 board meeting, Ulrich said, were not legally required to be agreed upon so early. She said the notices wouldn't have to be sent out until May 26. "The union is deeply puzzled why the district chose to authorize the RIF of 200 dedicated employees..and took that action when there was absolutely no reason to do so at this time," Ulrich said.
5) Ulrich said the dates of April 16, 18, 23 and 30 were agreed upon by all parties at the last negotiation in late February, and, "the union believes the most recent document released by the district is disingenuous. the words sound good on paper....but the district's actions are empty and hollow," Ulrich said.
The release from Thompson made clear that the RIF notices do not guarantee layoffs will occur, but rather, "given the uncertainty around the timing, duration, and outcome of the negotiations with DTU, the board must keep open the option of accepting one of the available bids even as we continue to negotiate with the union."
Thompson went on to state that the district is required to provide written notice to all current District 15 transportation employees at least 90 days in advance of possible layoffs, and that the current union contract expires on June 30, 2013.