The Negotiator Magazine

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What were the objective Criteria? The current contract had specific transfer policies that allowed teachers with more years of tenure to have the first option to transfer to other schools. Other districts had different standards about how many years of tenure were required before one could transfer. Also, other school districts had different voluntary and involuntary transfer policies. Some districts offered stipends for taking on the additional responsibilities associated with mentoring. There were charter schools within the San Diego School District that suspended union regulations. Some school districts in the country were turning over their difficult schools to private education companies.

What were some possible Options to put on the table? Among them were longer waiting periods before initial transfers could be made; mandatory rotation for experienced teachers at challenging schools; mentor stipends for teachers only at designated schools; or continuation of the status quo.

What were the teachers’ No-agreement alternatives? If teachers were unable to reach specific agreements with the administration regarding the inner city schools, the union could provide unilateral support to teachers in the most challenged schools and/or file grievances on behalf of individual teachers. If the overall negotiations were to fail, teachers could go on strike; "work to rule" (performing only those duties stipulated in the contract and nothing more); conduct before-and-after school pickets; conduct a media campaign to persuade the public of the teachers' cause; or refuse to negotiate for a specific period of time.

What were the District's No-agreement alternatives? The District administration could reject coming to an agreement on the inner city schools and instead place them on probation and/or look for outside foundation funding to make the needed improvements. If the overall negotiations were to fail, the administration could prepare strike plans; lockout teachers; or refuse to negotiate for a specific period of time.

Returning to the ICON diamond, you can see how each point impacts the other three. In the case of the San Diego School District, because it was revealed that increasing achievement in the most challenged schools was a very strongly shared interest, it became easier to propose Options to meet both sides’ needs. Moreover, both sides felt Criteria that included data from other school districts that either increased or decreased achievement were credible and persuasive. The No-agreement alternatives were designed based upon the parties finding unilateral ways to meet their interests (e.g. the administration unilaterally looking for funding).

The parties struggled with the inner city school problem. The union was adamant about preserving teachers' rights and freedoms, which meant that Options calling for mandatory rotation or increasing years prior to transfer were non-starters. Both parties began to look together at mentor stipends. Initially, the union wanted stipends for all teachers who provided mentoring. However, given the budget constraints, both parties doubted the stipend amount would be enough to appeal to teachers. The idea of focusing all the mentor budget dollars on the most challenging schools was initially rejected because individuals on both sides were concerned about not treating all schools equally. After further discussion about their Interests, consensus grew that a primary goal for everyone was to improve the most challenged schools. The parties were then able to agree to a targeted mentor stipend that would be sufficient to attract experienced teachers to those inner city schools that most needed help.

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