NTA Negotiations Update #4 2019-2020

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DISTRICT AND NTA CONTINUE TO MAKE PROGRESS IN 2019-2020 NEGOTIATIONS
NUSD Initiates Clarification of Transfer and Reassignment Procedures
NUSD Leaves Proposal Addresses Absenteeism on Professional Development Days
NTA Will Make Proposals on Four More Articles

This is Newark Unified School District’s (NUSD) fourth Negotiations Update for 2019-2020 contract negotiations between the District and the Newark Teachers Association (NTA). The District will distribute the Negotiations Update after meetings with NTA to inform our community on the progress of negotiations.

Bargaining teams for NUSD and NTA held their fourth negotiations sessions for the 2019-2020 school year on September 4, 2019. This eight hour session was productive and efficient. While there were serious and substantive conversations on subjects of importance to both parties, the dialog was consistent with one of the parties’ ground rules:

“Regardless of the level of intensity and/or emotion and/or commitment related to the subject matter under discussion at any given time, members of both bargaining teams pledge to be courteous and respectful in speech and in manner at all times, and to attack the issues and not each other or each other’s constituencies.”

Highlights of the meeting, by subject area, are as follows:

TRANSFER AND REASSIGNMENT PROCEDURES: DISTRICT INITIATES CLARIFICATIONS FOR MORE TRANSPARENT PROCESS: The District proposed to eliminate the process for making involuntary reassignments that involved entire school staffs (“Appendix L”). The District’s written rationale to NTA concluded this process has been more divisive than unifying and has been enforced unevenly and inconsistently by both parties. NTA agreed with much of the District’s reasoning and was able to provide the history of how and why this system was created.

Following a constructive, problem-solving discussion, the District offered to write a new proposal incorporating many of the suggestions raised through this dialog; NTA agreed to this approach. The new proposal emphasized the following points:

  • An opening statement of purpose: “The intent of this article is to set forth clear and transparent procedures to be followed when a vacancy exists. Voluntary transfer and reassignment procedures do not apply when no vacancies exist. This means there is no “open bidding process” for positions that have already been filled.”
  • Changes in assignment shall be made in the following order: voluntary reassignment, involuntary reassignment or transfer, and voluntary transfer. The District would retain rights to make involuntary or administrative changes in assignment for specified reasons.
  • Vacancies will be emailed to all unit members and no longer posted at sites.
  • Prior to making a final involuntary reassignment decision, the site administrator will meet with impacted unit members and the NTA site representative to review contract criteria to be applied in making this decision.

NTA expressed appreciation for the District’s efforts and indicated the proposal moves the parties forward in pursuing jointly held goals in this area.

LEAVES OF ABSENCE: NUSD PROPOSAL ADDRESSES ABSENTEEISM ON PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAYS: Citing a 30% teacher absenteeism rate on professional development (PD) and teacher workdays, the District has emphasized the importance of attendance on these days. There is no “unilateral absenteeism” permitted for teachers to decide not to attend work on these days. The District has proposed greater accountability (verification of absences)) and prohibitions on the use of personal necessity/business leave on PD days and teacher workdays for these reasons.

NTA rejected all District proposals in this area, except to prohibit use of “personal business importance leave” (2 days per year) on PD days. NTA also proposed to prohibit the District from seeking verification of illness/ability to work for absences of less than three days.

ASSOCIATION RIGHTS: DISTRICT ACCEPTS MORE NTA PROPOSALS: The parties have already agreed to much of this article incorporating changes in the law. The District responded in the afternoon to NTA’s noontime proposal and agreed to most of NTA’s changes, including clarifying procedures for Association leave, strengthening the Association’s “right to consult” on specified matters, providing NTA a list of all District committee members annually, and guaranteeing NTA 60 minutes to address unit members on union-related business at the new employee orientation.

In response to a key Association proposal, the District also offered language to allow certain NTA officers and representatives to leave their sites at 3:30 p.m. on two Mondays per month in order to attend NTA meetings held outside the District.

NTA indicated that the parties are “very close” to agreement on this article based on the District’s latest proposal.

OTHER MATTERS:

  • Tentative Agreement: The parties signed a tentative agreement on Article 2 (Recognition).
  • NTA Will Make Proposals on Four More Articles: NTA has opened four more articles on which they have not yet made proposals: Safety, Discipline, Special Education (new article), and Technology (new article).
  • Compensation: In response to NTA’s inquiry, the District stated it would not respond to NTA’s June 6 compensation proposal until all of NTA’s proposals have been given to the District. Many NTA proposals carry significant cost impacts (e.g., class size, work day, work year), as might NTA proposals yet to be made. The District bargains over “total compensation,” meaning it takes into account anything that costs money, not just salaries. NTA did not raise an objection at the bargaining table to this approach.
  • District Financial Presentation: NTA stated it would be helpful to have a District financial presentation at the next session. The District agreed to this request.

 NEXT STEPS: Negotiations will resume on September 18, 2019.