Pasco teachers, administration seek common ground
They haven't made much headway at the bargaining table. So the United School Employees of Pasco and the Pasco school administration will share their views with a federal mediator on Thursday in hopes of finding a solution on wages and benefits that has eluded them so far.
Their differences are fairly simple, and they're not unlike negotiation standoffs all over the state.
The union wants its contracted annual step increases and guarantees that the district will fully pay the additional health care premiums, as promised. The administration and School Board point to the district's dwindling revenue and says the extra pay isn't there, although it agrees in principle to cover the insurance costs.
District lead negotiator Terry Rhum told the Gradebook that he hopes to find some middle ground with the union, and he's prepared to discuss all the district can do. Still, he acknowledged, the continuing bad financial news leaves little room to move.
USEP president Lynne Webb figured the mediator would be able to determine by the end of the day whether a deal can emerge, or whether the issue should go to a magistrate instead. Still, the groups have scheduled additional mediation dates for Dec. 8, 10 and 11, just in case.