Riverview teachers, school board to talk Monday, first meeting since strike authorization vote
Negotiators for the Riverview School District and its teachers union are set to meet Monday, days after union members authorized a strike.
The teachers, members of the Riverview Education Association, voted “overwhelmingly” on Oct. 10 to authorize their negotiating team to call a strike, the union announced Friday.
It doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a strike; it gives the union’s bargaining team the ability to call one.
The union has 90 members and there are 995 students in the district from Oakmont and Verona.
The last contract between the district and the union expired at the end of June.
“We have been negotiating since January and we have been without a contract for more than 100 days, but the district seems uncommitted to the process,” association President Mark Capsambelis said in the statement.
The union said its negotiating team and the district have met 16 times since January. But it claimed the district has been late for nine of those meetings and said progress has been slow.
“It’s hard to believe the board is taking this seriously when only one of the (school board) members shows up and they leave the negotiations to the superintendent, solicitor, and business manager,” Capsambelis said.
The district and union are scheduled to meet for talks Monday afternoon, school board President Maureen McClure said. The school board has a public meeting Monday night.
On the union’s claim that the district is “uncommitted to the process,” McClure said, “We’ll just have to agree not to agree on that.”
“We have been very committed to the process. There was a lot of work to be done,” she said. “We need to be fair to everyone, not only to the teachers — which we want to be paid fairly — we want the taxpayers who we have to take money away from to be treated fairly.”
An issue in the talks has been updating the contract to reflect current state school codes, which McClure said had not been done in a long time.
McClure said she believed talks were going well, and that “quite a bit” has been accomplished. She said the district would have wanted to meet for talks more than the sides have to date.
“Schedules with the people involved have been complicated,” she said. “We can’t take full responsibility for that.”
McClure said it’s difficult to tell what impact the strike authorization vote may have on negotiations.
“We’re committed,” she said. “We want very much to get things not only settled but be sure the teachers, the parents, the students and the taxpayers all have a fair deal.”
Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.