Teachers union aims to address safety in contract negotiations
Representatives from the local teachers union say they want teacher safety to be part of upcoming contract negotiations with the district. On Tuesday night, leaders from the Grand Forks Education Association met with the Grand Forks School Board'...
Representatives from the local teachers union say they want teacher safety to be part of upcoming contract negotiations with the district.
On Tuesday night, leaders from the Grand Forks Education Association met with the Grand Forks School Board's teacher contract bargaining committee to go over general negotiation topics, as well as long-range goals. The meeting marked the latest development in the negotiations for the upcoming school year. In March, the school board's committee held two meetings behind closed doors to begin strategizing for negotiations.
"Safety is a big deal," GFEA's Tom Young told committee members. "That came through loud and clear on our survey. And not just school safety as far as security from armed shooters, but a safe workplace for teachers to be in, with volatile children and those types of things."
The union hopes to address safety in tandem with the usual discussions on compensation and benefits. Though neither side has unveiled any contract proposals, Young said he aims to discuss parental leave and health insurance when the time comes.
Committee members said they hope to produce a contract that will make Grand Forks a "compensatory top-tier school district."
"Our long-range goal is really to have people view our district as a destination place to come and work, stay and retire from," said committee member Amber Flynn, who also serves as the board's vice president. "All of that then trickles down to the education we're providing for students - a safe place for them to learn and grow, and obviously a place where teachers want to be and want to stay."
Young said the union has similar hopes.
"That sounds marvelous," Young told Flynn.
The entities haven't yet created a timeline for producing a new contract. The committee will meet with GFEA at least four more times this month and the next to hammer out details for a new teacher contract.
Committee members and union reps agreed that they want to discuss workplace environment in upcoming negotiations. That includes things that don't always show up on teachers' paychecks, said GFEA member Dawn Mord.
Flynn said she expects the group to begin delving into more specific contract details at an upcoming meeting on April 25.
"If we do some digging into the information that we have received and have conversations about those topics of discussion, then at the next meeting, I would envision us having more structured conversations about various types of asks," Flynn told the Herald after Tuesday's meeting.
Young said it's "really early to start making judgments or pulse checks on this," though he said he was encouraged by the committee's stated goal of making the district a destination for teachers.