June 17, 2002
Union vote to determine if strike is an option at NSD
by Jeanette Knutson
The Northshore School District School Board and the Northshore Education Association (NSEA) have had 15 contract-bargaining sessions so far. At this point in the negotiations, said Aaron Feik, president of the NSEA, "... (B)oth groups have all major issues on the table."
For the 1,200-plus teachers represented by the NSEA, compensation is the number one issue, said Feik. Other important bargaining items are elementary planning time, teacher workloads, benefits, involvement of teachers in decisions that affect them, and environmental concerns such as air quality and air temperature at certain district schools.
"We need to roll up our sleeves - on both sides - and make this work," said Feik.
Otherwise, NSEA members could start the new school year with a strike.
"We don't know if we have the backing of our membership (for a strike) or not," said Feik. "They have choices. They could decide to go back to school without a contract (if no agreement is reached over the summer)."
To that end, the NSEA called a meeting for June 17 (after this paper went to press) to vote whether or not to authorize a vote to strike on Aug. 27.
"We realize that calling a meeting like this the last week of school is the worst time. It's the busiest time of the year for teachers. But we figure the only clout we have is the unity of our membership," Feik said.
The next board/union bargaining session is on June 26.