Contract negotiations begin

Teacher contract negotiations began on May 10, when four members of the Shelter Island Faculty Association (SIFA) and the school’s attorney met in their first official teacher contract sit-down. Two more talks are scheduled for May 31 and June 16.

Sitting at the negotiation table were SIFA President Dr. Frank Emmett and SIFA members Brian Becker, Dr. James Dibble and Jennifer Rylott, on behalf of SIFA; negotiating on behalf of the school was Mary Anne Sadowski of Ingerman Smith LLP. School Business Leader Sam Schneider was also present to provide Ms. Sadowski with the data she needs during the negotiations. Interim Superintendent Robert Parry was present for part of the meeting.

The parties exchanged proposals and asked questions, Mr. Parry said, but both he and Dr. Emmett declined to describe the specifics of the proposals or what was discussed. The school’s contract with SIFA will expire June 30, 2011. Normally the teacher contract talks don’t begin until school-related professional (SRP) and custodial negotiations are completed, Mr. Parry said, but since those negotiations are taking so long, the teacher contract talks had to get started, he explained.

An SRP and custodial contract negotiation meeting was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, May 18, after the Reporter went to press. Meetings since October have utilized a Public Employee Relations Board mediator with no resolution. “Those talks are proceeding very slowly,” Mr. Parry said. If the parties are unable to reach a compromise, the mediator will appoint someone to serve as a fact finder, who will listen to both sides and then issue a contract recommendation, which either side can accept or reject.

SIFA declared that the SRP and custodial talks were at an impasse last fall, according to Dr. Emmett. The SRP and custodial contract expired on June 30, 2010.

Last year’s SRP and custodial contract negotiations were completed on January 26 and approved by the School Board on February 9, giving the employees a 5-percent raise.

School-related professionals include teacher’s aides, clerical staff and food service workers. The custodial contracts and SRP contracts are separate, Dr. Emmett noted, but are negotiated at the same time since the language of the contracts is similar.

He said that this is the first time, to his knowledge, that the talks have required a mediator. He’s been on the district faculty since 1992.