Board members disagree about opening union contact talks to the general public

Jun 1, 2013 by

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The last time the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union and the Southwest Vermont Education Association engaged in contract talks, it resulted in a nine-day teachers strike.

The strike occurred after more than 500 days without a ratified contract and ended with a community torn apart.

The current contract is set to expire at the end of the school year in 2014.  Negotiations for the next contract are scheduled to start up again in December or January.

The feeling around the community is, “Here we go again.”

Except this time around, some members of the supervisory union board (the equivalent of a typical school district board) are calling for negotiations to be open to the public, according to the Bennington Banner.

Open negotiations would give the public the opportunity to know all of the details of the discussion and hold the two parties accountable. They could make weigh the financial demands of the union against the financial condition of the school district.

If citizens want to avoid another messy contract situation and possible strike, allowing them to monitor negotiations is a smart first step. Negotiators on both sides will think twice about being unreasonable or heavy-handed, with taxpayers and reporters only a few feet away.

Francis Kinney, a supervisory union board member, said he thinks the community has a right to know what’s going on in negotiations, the news report said. But not every member agrees.

An advisory motion to hold contract negotiations in open session failed Wednesday, with three board members voting in favor, four against and three abstentions.

The board members in support have vowed to continue the fight for open negotiations in upcoming meetings.

Board members disagree about opening union contact talks to the general public – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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