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Hillsprp-Deering Teachers file labor complaint

Teachers in the Hillsboro-Deering School District filed an unfair labor practices complaint Monday, alleging the district school board bargained in bad faith during their contract negotiations this fall.

According to the complaint, difficulties with negotiations began in the spring, when the first meeting was postponed from May to September, in part because the district’s new superintendent began work July 1. That first meeting was again postponed until the end of October.

The two sides reached impasse in early December and eventually met with a mediator Dec. 12. After mediation, they agreed to a one-year contract that included an evergreen clause that would allow teachers to continue up the pay scale ladder in years when there is no active contract, but with no cost-of-living increases to the steps.

But what prompted the complaint to the state Public Employees Labor Relations Board was a decision by school board chairman and negotiating team member Richard Pelletier not to vote for or support the contract once negotiations ended.

Pelletier could not be reached for comment yesterday, but in the complaint, the teachers’ union lawyer, Terri Donovan, wrote that throughout negotiations he resisted supporting a contract with an evergreen clause.

At a school board meeting on Dec. 17, a motion to approve the proposed contract failed to receive a second, and was not discussed in public session despite both Pelletier and board member Nancy Egner Denu having been on the negotiating team and agreeing to support and advocate for the result of negotiations, according to the complaint.

Union members approved the contract at a meeting on Dec. 20, but since it didn’t come up for a vote from the school board at Monday night’s meeting, when the board approved the warrant for this year’s annual meeting, it can’t move forward.

The teachers’ most recent contract includes an evergreen clause, so the 56 teachers who are eligible to move up based on years of service will do so. More than half of the district teachers are at the top of the pay scale and cannot move up further steps, Donovan said.

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