On Thursday afternoon, September 7, shortly after the fourth regularly scheduled negotiation session between the School Board and the Albemarle Education Association (AEA) began, the AEA representatives terminated the discussions and walked out of the meeting. The School Board representatives remained at the negotiating table for another 30 minutes, but the AEA representatives did not return.
Progress toward the School Board’s adoption of a mutually agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement was being made. In a process that has been in place for nine weeks, both parties reached agreement on nearly 70 separate items and agreed in concept to several more. The AEA’s unilateral action last week interrupted this process and brought the progress toward adoption of a collective bargaining agreement to a stop.
The School Board remains committed in good faith to this negotiation process. And, we recognize that this draft resolution is still a draft and, in fact, many important provisions were tabled and remain to be negotiated. But, negotiations require the presence of both parties. The School Board negotiating team stands ready, willing and able to restart negotiations if the AEA chooses to do so.
The sooner this occurs, the sooner the parties will come to agreement on a collective bargaining resolution and the sooner an election can be held to determine if employees wish to have the AEA represent them as their bargaining agent. Following the certification of an election that would take place as soon as possible, the School Board and the employee bargaining agent will negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.
The School Board’s draft resolution would provide for collective bargaining for approximately 95 percent of school division employees, including, among others, teachers, nurses, school bus drivers, teaching assistants, and custodial and child nutrition staff. The draft resolution would exempt supervisory employees and those who assist them in a confidential capacity.
The School Board and the AEA each appointed representatives to a negotiating committee to work together to create a final resolution. Starting in June, this committee met regularly to reach agreement on how collective bargaining will work in the school division.
Importantly, the School Board and the AEA unanimously agreed on a negotiation protocol. It provided that a draft resolution be addressed item by item and discussed until agreement was reached. If a particular item discussion ended in impasse, it would be tabled and revisited at a later time. Last Thursday, the AEA did not adhere to the negotiation protocol.
On March 2, the School Board voted to move forward with collective bargaining. We did so in good faith, in recognition and support of the value of employee participation in decisions as well as the role of the school division in the future and enduring success of our community.
We stand ready to negotiate. The next scheduled negotiation session is scheduled for September 26 with an additional session on October 17.
Chair, Albemarle County School Board