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Pasco teacher contract talks head to mediation

The sides reached impasse in January.
Negotiators for the Pasco school district and United School Employees of Pasco conduct contract talks on Dec. 19, 2018. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times
Negotiators for the Pasco school district and United School Employees of Pasco conduct contract talks on Dec. 19, 2018. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times
Published Feb. 25, 2019

Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco and the Pasco school district administration will try one more avenue to resolve their contract differences before turning to official impasse hearings with the state.

The USEP declared collective bargaining talks had reached a stalemate in mid-January, with the sides at loggerheads over four issues — performance evaluations, raise distribution, turnaround training and seniority during layoff and transfer decisions.

They filed a declaration with the state Public Employee Relations Commission, and began reviewing magistrates to conduct hearings and issue recommendations.

Then came the idea of seeking federal mediation first. The impasse has been put on hold with the state, while the union and district instead consider possible mediators to come in.

Once selected, the mediator would look at the proposals from both groups and see if any compromises or other resolutions could be reached without taking the next step. If anything, district employee relations director Kathy Scalise said, perhaps the mediation can reduce the number of disagreements.

The lead negotiators also continue to have conversations on their own. They’ve discussed, for instance, whether to remove the seniority debate from the conversation in order to spend more time researching both interpretations of state law.

All other contract negotiations and pay raises have been finalized.

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