Mediators stave off arbitration in Anchorage teacher contracts talks
The Anchorage School District and the Anchorage Education Association worked late into the night Wednesday negotiating with mediators on new teacher contracts. All parties left the table feeling there was no more to do.
"Both sides actually selected an arbitrator," AEA president Tom Klaameyer said. "I was just waiting to hear when the arbitration hearing would be."
However, negotiations took a swift turn. Both sides concluded talks at 1:30 a.m. After sleeping on it, mediators called early Thursday morning.
"They felt we had made some significant progress to schedule another round of mediation," Klaameyer said. "So we will go ahead with that sometime in the next two weeks."
Klaameyer says they will keep the arbitrator.
"If we don't need the arbitrator we can cancel at anytime," Klaameyer said. "We hope we don't get to that point. It looked like it was heading that way but as I said, early this morning, the mediators decided to give both sides another go."
The Anchorage School Board also sounded optimistic in a press release Thursday morning.
"Following two days of collaborative mediation talks on November 6 and 7, the Anchorage School District and Anchorage Education Association have agreed to continue the mediation talks. Depending on the availability of the federal mediators, within the next two weeks the District is pleased to continue its work with the teachers’ union to reach a negotiated settlement," the release states.
The district's head of human resources, Todd Hess, said the two sides are closer to reaching a compromise.
“We worked diligently and collaboratively during the last two days of federal mediation, making tremendous progress toward reaching an agreement," Hess said.
Dates for the third round of mediation have not been set. Teachers in the Anchorage School District are currently working under the guidelines of the old contract which expired on June 30, 2018.
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