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Manchester teachers: What is there to talk about?

August 24. 2018 4:09PM

Rich Girard doesn't see much point in meeting with Manchester's teachers union until the two sides can agree on something to talk about. Girard is an at-large school board member and chair of the board's negotiating committee. Last week, he canceled a pair of meetings with the Manchester Education Association scheduled for Aug. 30 and Sept. 8.

The union is upset, and we're not sure why.

The MEA declared an impasse on June 4. The city's contract with Manchester teachers expired on June 30, and school board negotiators have been meeting with the union on and off over the summer.

But right now, there's nothing on the table to discuss. The MEA first asked for a $28 million pay raise, which even it concedes the city can't afford. But it has yet to bring forward a more reasonable offer.

Girard says the city's proposal on salary and sick time isn't ready, but wants to take up other issues, such as health insurance and the school calendar.

But the MEA responded "until there is a salary proposal to discuss, the team does not want to meet."

So Girard canceled the next two meetings. Isn't that what the MEA wanted?

Each side accuses the other of not bargaining in good faith. The MEA says that until a contract is signed, it will ask its members to "work to rule," meaning doing nothing more than the minimum required by the contract.

We hope Girard is able to craft the city's salary proposal quickly. We urge the MEA to come back to the table to discuss other issues as soon as possible.

Unless the union is willing to talk about something other than a budget-busting pay raise, negotiators will have nothing to show for a long, hot, wasted summer.


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