Q3. In absence of collective bargaining, how would you like to see the board address the concerns of employees about their working conditions and salary?
If Act 10 survives legal challenges, collective bargaining is set to end on June 30 this year. Base salary remains negotiable within the confines of the Consumer Price Index. Limited working condition issues are addressed in the Handbook. The current board is working with staff and administration to create a “Policy and Procedures” manual, or Handbook, to define worker rights, rules and responsibilities in the absence of a comprehensive contract. Mr. Roth created an aggressive schedule to complete the Handbook in a timely fashion so as to provide a seamless transition to the post-collective bargaining era. The process has been collaborative and has included many opportunities for input from all stakeholders. It has rightly dominated board business for the better part of a year. The path has been accompanied by thoughtful dialog wherein board members, staff and administration have engaged in philosophical discussions necessary to arrive at a balanced end product. The grievance procedure laid out in the new Handbook reflects state law, which permits grievance for allowable events concerning discipline, termination and workplace safety. All of these can be construed to fall under working conditions. The Handbook procedure includes the right to appeal to the board. I strongly believe every employee should have the right to petition the board in these matters. In addition, a thorough knowledge of employee grievances would inform the board as to employee morale and has the potential to further improve the board-staff communication dynamic.
Even though it’s hard to envision after the last few years of economic hardship, the nature of the beast suggests that “this too shall pass.” I would continue in the current board’s footsteps to help create a Handbook that guides the district equally well through both good and bad economic times. Producing a thoughtful, comprehensive employee Handbook is the most effective way for the board to address employee concerns under the constraints imposed by Act 10.