Pasco school employees union fights video with video in bargaining standoff
Since August, the United School Employees of Pasco has criticized superintendent Kurt Browning for using video and other means to give budget and contract information to bargaining unit members. The move subverts the negotiation process, USEP president Kenny Blankenship suggested.
After Browning delivered a new message Friday, saying non-represented employees would get raises sooner than those for whom the USEP bargains, Blankenship decided to turn to the same medium to get his message across.
In his first video address to teachers and school-related employees, Blankenship criticized the district administration for its unwillingness to budge from its original pay and benefit package, presented in the summer. He declared impasse in contract talks shortly after placing a new union financial proposal on the table.
"During the last session on Wednesday, I gave the board's negotiating team the opportunity to contact the superintendent to discuss the economic proposal language the USEP passed. They refused," Blankenship said. "With the exception of the district's language on differentiated accountablity schools ... the board's proposals on the table have not changed since early August, nor have they responded to any of the USEP proposals. The School Board's representatives have had every opportunity to address or bargain these issues. They've chosen not to."
The administration has said it wanted more time to look at the latest request, and was willing to return to talks. But it did not want to hold up raises for employees not covered in the negotiations. (Its use of the term "non-represented" rather than "non-bargaining" caused enough confusion to lead assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley to email a clarification Monday to all employees.)
Blankenship said the USEP, too, did not want to delay contract discussions or any raises that teachers and others in the schools deserve.
"Impasse is not a threat," he said. "It's a means to a resolution. USEP will happily return to the bargaining table when the district brings meaningful responses to our proposals. We have no desire to prolong the bargaining process. But we also have an obligation to represent and promote the interests of those of you who belong to our bargaining units."
See Blankenship's full video message below: