Education

First mediation set for Quincy School Board, union

Roy Webb and Jen Drew
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 15, 2017 9:25 pm Updated: Aug. 16, 2017 9:04 am

QUINCY -- A first meeting with a mediator has been set for the Quincy School Board and the Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel.

John Weathers with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will meet with both sides from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 31.

Two other meetings, if needed, are scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 12 and 19.

Superintendent Roy Webb said he will be glad to see talks resume on a new contract.

"I think it will be positive," Webb said. "We'll get back to trying to get an agreement."

Weathers is already known to both the board and the union.

"He assisted us last year," Webb said.

"That will be helpful. He already knows the contract that we passed in January," QF Co-president Jen Drew said. "It's helpful to have that background knowledge."

Drew said QF officers met Monday night to discuss things members still are wanting in the contract.

"We'll be prepared when we go in and meet with the mediator on the 31st," she said. "We're just anxious to get things going."

Contract talks headed to mediation after QF members last week rejected a second three-year contract proposal.

QF and the School Board announced a tentative agreement July 11 on a three-year contract. But union membership rejected the proposal, surprising leadership from both sides, citing concerns with a proposed increase in employee health care costs that outpaced a proposed salary increase.

The second proposal made two small changes to contract language, one dealing with the spouse portion of the health insurance and another making the third year an option year, meaning it could be reopened if district finances significantly change.

Both proposals called for a 2.4 percent raise the first year, 1.5 percent the second year and 1.7 percent the third. The School District pays a percentage of monthly insurance costs for employees, with employees paying the rest, and there was a large difference in splits, especially for families.

Compensation and insurance remain stumbling blocks in reaching a new agreement, which must be approved by all subgroups in the union.

Drew said last week that calling in a mediator was not "a negative thing" for the talks.

"It's just maybe they can get each side to move the tiniest bit more, and that's going to make the difference," she said.