No progress following school district, MEA mediation session

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MANCHESTER, NH — The divide between the Manchester Education Association and the city’s designated negotiation team so far has not been bridged by mediation. A scheduled session held April 9, which had been previously canceled  by the district’s negotiation team when the mediator was unable to participate due to illness, ended with no resolution.

Two days of mediation were supposed to happen this week, according to Hannan’s statement, on April 9 and a second session as needed, April 11.

Her statement was disputed by the city negotiation team on Wednesday as a “blatant lie,” noting that the second date did not make the calendar as their attorney, Matt Upton, was not available.

According to MEA President Sue Hannan, the city’s negotiation team has “refused” to continue with mediation on Thursday.

The city’s mediation team, led by School Board member Rich Girard, asserts that the MEA has by virtue of requesting mediation, declared “impasse,” an assertion which Hannan has rejected.

Below are both statements released independently by School Board member Rich Girard and MEA president Sue Hannon. Until recently, the two had agreed upon issuing joint statements to the public following closed-door negotiations.

Maxine Mosely represented the MEA during Tuesday’s mediation, as Hannan was out of town attending a funeral.

Statement issued by Rich Girard on April 9


“Today’s mediation session with the Manchester Education Association did not yield the results we had hoped for.  MEA President Sue Hannan was not present because she was attending a funeral out of state and the session was cut short after MEA Vice President Maxine Mosely announced she had to leave for an MEA meeting.  The school board’s negotiations committee was neither informed that Mrs. Hannan would be absent nor that the meeting would have to end by 2:30 PM in advance of today’s session.

“Despite these obstacles, the committee agreed to consider an MEA proposed one year contract under the condition that it stayed within the city’s tax cap and did not perpetuate the equity issues raised by the MEA, which were addressed by the negotiation committee’s proposals.  Once the committee receives the proposal from the MEA, it will determine the next steps.

“In as much as the MEA’s invocation of mediation is a Declaration of Impasse, the school board negotiations committee will release the proposals it has made to the MEA since talks resumed in November.  It will also release the district’s cost-outs of the proposals made by the MEA.  The committee deferred release of this material at the time the MEA invoked mediation with the hope that an agreement would be reached.  Since that time, the committee has grown concerned with the amount of misinformation circulating about negotiations and believes it is now necessary to release this information to correct the record.
“While it waits for the MEA’s next proposal, the committee will continue negotiations with the district’s other bargaining units with the intent of bringing them to a successful conclusion in advance of any final decisions on the budget.”

Statement issued by Sue Hannan on April 10


“It was clear during the mediation session that the three-pronged approach that the board was taking was not going to be accepted by MEA at this time. The MEA indicated that it would need more time to evaluate part of The Proposal regarding paid time off.

“The MEA was very clear that there were a lot of unknowns in the board’s proposal and that we could not consider a proposal without definitive numbers or long-term implications for our members.
“The mediator then suggested some alternatives which led to the conversation about a potential one-year deal regarding money, staying within the tax cap, and the price point of $1.3 million dollars. This number would have to include all the additional elements of salary including FICA, Social Security, and retirement that the district would be obligated to pay.
“MEA has not declared impasse. Mr. Girard is again mischaracterizing the negotiations process and rules. The mediator was scheduled for both Tuesday and Thursday should we have needed the second day. The board refused to continue to meet on Thursday, as it had refused to meet with MEA when the mediator was sick.”
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to reflect the city team’s dispute with Hannan’s statement.
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