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Riverview School District, teachers union report progress in contract talks

October 27, 2018 GMT

Riverview School District and teachers union officials say progress is being made in contract talks less than a week after the union voted to authorize a strike.

Both sides continued negotiations Monday and later fielded questioned about the talks following a school board workshop meeting.

“We’ve made progress and we’re down to the difficult stuff,” union President Mark Capsambelis said. “We have three more (negotiation) sessions and we’ll see how it goes after those sessions.”

Capsambelis declined to provide specifics about the talks but said “all of the big issues still need to be negotiated.”

School board President Maureen McClure said both groups want a five-year deal.

“We’re down to the economics, which is the hard part,” she said. “We’ve got great teachers, and we want to keep them.

“We’ve accomplished an awful lot. People on both sides are respectful, they’re concerned and everybody’s totally committed to the process of fairness,” McClure added.

The union’s 90 members have been without a contract since July. The last contract was a four-year deal.

“We had a contract that needed a lot of updating,” McClure said. “It takes a while to get the contract in good shape so that it’s clear. It’s a real pain to go through all this stuff, but once you’ve got a good contract that you can refer to for the next five years it’s well worth the time and the investment.”

She said the district has been very transparent about its finances throughout the discussions.

“We don’t have money stored away under the mattress,” McClure said. “We’re trying to get this wrapped up because the holiday season is coming up. We’re very concerned about our younger teachers.”

The teachers union, known as the Riverview Education Association, voted Oct. 10 to authorize their negotiating team to call a strike.

Capsambelis said the district would receive 48-hour notice should a strike be called. State law requires teachers to provide at least 180 days of instruction by June 15.

The next negotiating session is Oct. 22. A school board voting meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. the same day at Tenth Street Elementary.