On Wednesday, May 23, 2007, Floyd J. Dugas was a speaker at the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Presentation on Collective Bargaining for school districts. Following is a synopsis of some of the Practical Suggestions and Hot Topics discussed by Floyd during his presentation.
- Begin preparation months before your official start date for teacher negotiations.
- Collect and evaluate the data at this early stage – know the anticipated cost of step; how your salaries compare to those in surrounding and similar districts; speak to your insurance consultant as to where changes can be made.
- Interest Based Bargaining (as compared to traditional bargaining) has some advantages, but can be very time consuming. If you are considering it, start the process at least four (4) months prior to when you normally would.
- If you end up in arbitration, start with a witness who can clearly and convincingly explain the fiscal challenges facing your community; use graphs, charts and pictures where you can and make your presentation focused and meaningful.
- The use of experts to explain insurance and pension issues is essential; but make sure you understand the terms they are using and exactly what they are going to testify as to.
- Arbitration awards have been trending .20 to .25% per year lower than settlements in teacher negotiations, so provided the dollars at issue are large enough, do not be afraid of arbitration.
- Never forget, however, a negotiated or mediated settlement is usually preferable to an arbitration award.
GASB-45 covering Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) requires reporting and encourages funding of other post retirement benefits, such as retiree health insurance, beginning July 1, 2007 or 2008 depending on the size of the community.
Pay For Performance – Little progress has been made in this area, but districts should continue to push. It will some day be the reality. It may well require a state-wide solution with independent funding, as is the case in Denver and Arizona.