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2015 UEA Bargaining Summit trains leaders to advocate for their profession

11/24/2015

Nearly 100 educators representing school districts across the state volunteered their time Saturday, Nov. 21, to discuss ways they can better advocate for teachers and students as part of the 2015 UEA Bargaining Summit.

According to UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain the Summit is “an opportunity for teacher leaders from across the state to share best practices for working effectively with district administrators and school boards.” This marked the fourth year UEA has held a statewide Bargaining Summit.

UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh and UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom began the Summit with a session for all participants on organizing around the issues of bargaining and evaluation. They reviewed the Utah State Board of Education rules for implementation of Utah’s new teacher evaluation law and explained areas where there is leeway for local associations to collaboratively negotiate policies.

“The rules adopted by the State Board leave several areas open for interpretation,” said Nentl-Bloom. “These provide an opportunity for (negotiation teams) to reach agreement on how these items are to be implemented.”

Bruce Williams, who served as business administrator in three Utah school districts, provided an overview of Utah school budgets to help those on district bargaining teams understand the complexities of school finance. He shared links to budget resources available on the Utah State Office of Education website.

Participating teachers then separated into rural and urban groups for discussion of issues and possible solutions. Some rural issues discussed included funding steps and lanes, health insurance and teacher shortages. Urban concerns included at-will contracts, school schedules, dual immersion program issues, teacher morale and longevity incentives.

“Because of this (Bargaining Summit) we will have the opportunity for stronger contracts and we can be stronger advocates for our members,” said Nentl-Bloom during a closing session for all participants.

“There are lots of resources to help you with bargaining and negotiations on the UEA website,” said Blain. He also announced dates for regional bargaining training (contact your local UniServ Office for times and locations):

  • January 26: Salt Lake
  • January 28, Northern
  • February 3: Cedar City
  • February 4: Richfield
  • February 4: Davis
  • February 8: Heber City
  • February 10: Green River
  • February 16: Vernal

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