Fact finder enters TPS talks

Recommendations for teachers, district expected next week


Toledo Public Schools and its teachers’ union may be nearing a resolution in contract negotiations, as the two sides have turned to a fact finder to settle their differences.

Kevin Dalton, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said his union and district negotiators held fact-finding sessions in late August, and expect recommendations from the mediator to come sometime in the next week.

In fact finding, a mediator attempts to resolve differences, and if that is impossible the mediator issues contract recommendations after hearing arguments from both sides. The mediator’s report is binding unless rejected by 60 percent of the voting members of either side. For the union, that would mean 60 percent of all members, not just those who voted.

The two sides turned to a fact finder in their last round of negotiations in 2011. Then, the report called for significant financial concessions over the next two fiscal years from teachers, including a 2.5 percent pay cut and a requirement that teachers pay a bigger portion of their health-care costs.

Negotiations between the district and unions have been noticeably quieter this year compared to 2011, but have also dragged on much longer. While TFT and the board accepted a fact finder's report in late June that year, negotiations this time have now stretched into the school year.

The union’s contract ended July 1, but its terms remain in place. District Treasurer Matt Cleland said during a Board of Education committee hearing Wednesday that the lengthy negotiations weren't originally planned.

“We didn’t expect negotiations would go this long,” he said.

In 2011, TPS leaders were clear that they wanted significant financial concessions and contract language changes, but haven’t publicly stated goals in this round of talks.

District and union officials have declined to go into detail over why they've been unable to reach an agreement, but several district officials said the sticking point appeared to be over financials.

The district remains in negotiations with its administrators’ union and with employees in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Those two unions have traditionally reached agreements with TPS after the teachers’ union settled with the district.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.