Teams from local school districts prepared to advocate for teachers as part of the 2019 UEA Bargaining Summit. The event was held at the Jordan School District Auxiliary Services Building in West Jordan. More than 100 educators representing school districts across the state volunteered their time Saturday, Nov. 16, to attend.
“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,” said UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain. This marked the eighth year UEA has held a Bargaining Summit.
The Summit began with a presentation on the need for educators to be recognized as professionals who deserve to be included in decisions affecting their students and schools. UEA President Heidi Matthews and Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones discussed how ESSA provides opportunities to insert and amplify educator voice regarding curriculum, learning conditions and professional development beyond negotiations, including the tax restructure conversation.
Breakout sessions at the Summit included the following:
- Preparing to Negotiate – What does it mean to ‘negotiate year-round?’ What kinds of conversations should we be having within our teams and with the District’s team before formal negotiations start? Discussed how to be effective in negotiations preparation. Presented by Michael Rollins, Cache County School District and Curtis Benjamin, Northern Utah UniServ Director.
- Student Centered Bargaining and Educator Voice – Educators are professionals who need and deserve to be included in decisions affecting their students and schools. The Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESSA) provides opportunities to insert and amplify educator voice regarding curriculum, learning conditions and professional development beyond negotiations, including the tax restructure conversation. Presented by Heidi Matthews, UEA President and Sara Jones, UEA Director of Education Excellence and Government Relations.
- Student-centered Bargaining – Affiliates from across the nation have been organizing, bargaining, and advocating to improve learning conditions for students and working conditions for educators. These affiliates are running transparent bargaining, engaging members and communities in public fights for lower class sizes, fewer tests, more counselors and nurses, safe and socially just schools, and professional pay. This session offered an introduction to the concepts and practices related to student-centered bargaining and advocacy. Presented by Andy Jewell, NEA Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy.
- Leveraging Negotiations to Build Membership – You have your negotiated settlement, now what? How can you use your settlement to grown membership in your local? Session participants learned various ways to do so. Presented by Denise Willmore, Davis School District and Pat Riley, Davis UniServ Director.
- District Budgets and Tax Levies – You can’t get the best bargaining settlement without knowing how the money flows. This session focused on the local school finance from WPU’s to property tax levies and the impact on local bargaining. Presented by Jay Blain, UEA Director of Policy and Research.
- Educator Input Prior to Negotiations – Are your members tired of the negotiations survey every year? Participants heard other ideas on how to gather input from educators prior to negotiations. Presented by Brandon Baca, Weber Education Association President and Barb Whitman, Ogden-Weber UniServ Director.
- Comptracker – Participants learned about Comptracker, an online bargaining resource, and how to use it to enhance bargaining. Presented by Jay Blain, UEA Director of Policy and Research.
- Identifying Local Bargaining Opportunities – Negotiations isn’t just about salary and benefits. Attendees discovered other types of issues around which to bargain. Presented by Tami Williams, South Summit School District and Jennifer Boehme, Jordan UniServ Director.
In a lunch-time General Session, UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels moderated a panel discussion of local negotiations’ team members who shared their experiences in turning challenges into successes. Panel members included Amanda Parker, Jordan School District; Mike Mudrow, Logan School District; Rod Hurd, Sevier School District and James Tobler, Salt Lake City School District.
The meeting concluded with participants gathering in local negotiations teams to begin negotiations planning. “Participants left energized, engaged and educated about the bargaining process,” said Blain. “Our hope is that this event will give bargaining teams the tools they need to successfully advocate for their profession, for their students and for the collective good of public education in Utah.”