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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Let's make a deal: What Hillsborough teachers got to persuade them to sign



In deciding whether to sign Florida's Race to the Top memorandum of understanding, teachers union leaders had impasse on their minds.

The last thing they wanted was to agree to negotiate, fail to reach an agreement and then have their districts impose major changes in working conditions that they didn't want. United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb put it this way:

"My major objections are of the prescriptive nature of the MOU and the false impression out there that the unions can sign this memo and then back out at any time. When unions sign they are actually agreeing to negotiate. ... If you go to the table you risk impasse and having terms imposed, because that is the final step in impasse in Florida."

Webb refused to sign Pasco's MOU and won't even have formal talks with district administrators about Race to the Top lest they take that as a start of negotiations. "I am willing to look at all required elements and engage in conversations about how we might get it done," she said. "But I'm not going to do it at the bargaining table."

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association steered clear of that concern and signed the MOU. How? By reaching a side deal with its local administration.

The agreement states that the sides will negotiate in good faith to meet the terms of Race to the Top, and negotiations "will not cease until all issues are resolved to the satisfaction of both parties."

The deal also provides that any contract modifications made to meet Race to the Top goals will expire with the end of Race to the Top or the end of financial support, whichever comes first, and that the general fund will not become the money pot to pay for the reforms.

Any thoughts on which union took the right position?

(By the way, the final tally is in, with 59 of 67 districts signing the MOU, including the signatures of five teacher unions. See the list for the details.)


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:47am]


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