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No Christmas present in store for Janesville teachers

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
November 14, 2007
— Prospects for a new contract for Janesville teachers by year’s end seem dim.

It’s been more than two months since the Janesville School Board filed for mediation of its contract dispute with the Janesville Education Association.


A mediator has been appointed, but the two sides have not had their first mediation session.


Teachers are working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30. The union has asked its members to work only the hours required by their contract instead of coming in earlier or leaving later, as many teachers do.


The union also has asked teachers not to volunteer for unpaid tasks.


Union leaders have acknowledged their job actions ultimately will harm students’ educations.


When asked what the holdup is, mediator Karen Mawhinney said, “you’d have to ask the parties.”


It is difficult to find a date on which all members of the teachers’ team could meet, said Ted Lewis, director of Rock Valley United Teachers, a negotiator working for the teachers union.


“My calendar is full,” Lewis said, noting that he represents “a bunch of other districts,” and teachers’ calendars are full as well, especially with holidays coming up.


The two sides probably won’t meet before Christmas, Lewis said.


The two sides at first had held Nov. 14 as a tentative date, but the teachers announced on Oct. 14 that the November date wouldn’t work, said the board’s chief negotiator, Mike Julka.


The mediator has been trying to get the teachers to suggest dates, without success, Julka said.


“Normally, this would’ve been scheduled a long time ago,” Julka said.


“If it had been up to us, we’d have met by now,” said Superintendent Tom Evert.


Mediator Mawhinney said she’s hopeful the two sides can find dates to meet.


“I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and we always come up with a date for mediation, eventually,” she said.


The school board has scheduled a closed meeting Friday to discuss the status of the negotiations.



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