Janesville48.5°

Milton teacher talks stall

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Stacy Vogel
August 27, 2009
— Seven hours was not enough for the Milton School District and teachers union to reach an agreement on a contract.

The two sides met from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday in their first mediation session but still disagree on a variety of issues, representatives from both sides said afterward.


The teachers union, the Milton Education Association, will take a proposal from the district to its members for discussion Friday, union President Shelly Kress and Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said.


The teachers’ two-year contract expired June 30.


The district filed for mediation in June because it realized after five meetings that the two sides weren’t going to agree on their own, Nikolay said.


“We were at a stalemate,” he said.


The two sides still disagree on salary, insurance and other issues, Nikolay said.


Kress said the teachers and district are apart on a lot of issues but couldn’t comment on how close they are to an agreement.


“That’s why we’re going to talk to our members,” she said.


Milton has a history of contentious contract negotiations. It didn’t reach an agreement on a 2007-09 contract until September 2008, 15 months after the previous contract expired. The 2005-07 contract was settled 19 months after the previous one expired.


In the past, districts could impose a qualified economic offer on teachers when the two sides couldn’t agree. The offer raised salary and benefit packages 3.8 percent per year.


But the state Legislature eliminated that option in its most recent budget. The budget also changed state law so that arbitrators are no longer instructed to give greatest weight to local economic conditions and revenue caps in deciding contract cases.


Arbitration is the next step if the two sides can’t agree in mediation. The teachers will continue to work under the terms of the expired contract until a new agreement is reached.



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