Janesville76.2°

Contract negotiations will continue for Janesville teachers

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ANN MARIE AMES
June 26, 2010
— The Janesville School District and its teachers did not reach a settlement Thursday night during a six-hour mediation session, according to spokesmen for the two sides.

Negotiating teams for the district and the teachers will meet separately next week to talk about options, spokesmen said.


The teams met Thursday night with Bill Houlihan, a mediator with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. The teachers union requested mediation in this bargaining session, Jim Reif, co-lead negotiator for the JEA, has said.


More than 840 Janesville teachers are working under the terms of a contract that expired nearly a year ago. The two sides have met off and on since May 20, 2009.


This is the second time in a row the district and teachers have gone to mediation.


Mediation is a tool used to find a voluntary settlement. It is different than arbitration, in which a professional chooses an outcome for the two parties.


Either side could file a petition for arbitration later, if mediation is unsuccessful, said Marshall Gratz, staff attorney and mediator for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.


The WERC is the agency that supplies mediators and arbitrators in contract disputes involving public employee bargaining units.


While neither side would talk about details, both said Houlihan came up with ideas to move the discussion forward.


"Basically, he said, 'Here's where we are. Here are your three options for proceeding. Talk as a group about what you're going to do next,'" said Steve Sperry, personnel director for the school district and member of the negotiations team.


Sperry would not explain what options for moving forward were discussed.


Reif wouldn't either.


"The JEA negotiating team is evaluating its options to obtain a contract," Reif said. "There are different scenarios."



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