A few thoughts on teacher contracts

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Greg Peck
March 22, 2013

Janesville School District residents should be heartened to hear that the school board and employee unions are talking about benefits and working conditions. Both sides report amicable discussions, which should ease tensions that skyrocketed last week. Janesville Education Association President Dave Parr sent a letter March 13 vowing to sue if the board didn't agree to negotiate with the teachers union by 5 p.m. the next day.

The school board's labor lawyer advised officials that a judge's recent ruling doesn’t apply outside of Dane County. It's reasonable for the board to heed that advice.

Act 10 comes into play here July 1, when contracts for all three district unions expire. The unions were miffed that they weren't allowed enough input on handbook revisions that will outline benefits—including those for early retirees—and working conditions.

The only thing that remained negotiable under Act 10 is wages, and the board told the unions it would negotiate wages. On benefits and working conditions, the board said it would “meet and confer.” That seemed to pacify Parr.

Do you think this strikes the right balance? We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Saturday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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