By Tim Leeds
The HEA (Havre Education Association) said that there is need to address changes in the contract negotiations for Havre public school teachers.
HEA issued a statement Tuesday saying significant changes have occurred because of the restructuring of the Havre Public Schools and action by the 2001 Legislature.
"There is a need to address these factors as well as the actual impact of any salary increase," the statement said.
Superintendent Kirk Miller said at the May 8 meeting of the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees that he had received a letter from the HEA stating that the HEA members had voted down an agreement reached by the IBB (interest based bargaining) team on a three-year contract.
The agreement, reached after four months of negotiation, provided for a 10 percent "whole pot" pay increase, with 4 percent the first year and 3 percent raises the second and third years.
Some of the increases would have included health and extracurricular activities.
The board voted unanimously to rescind its conditional approval of the IBB agreement and to instruct Miller to hire a professional negotiator to represent the school district in collective bargaining contract negotiations.
The HEA stated that it is willing to work with the district in future negotiations.
"Despite the fact that the board is hiring a professional negotiator, the HEA still welcomes the opportunity to continue working with the board toward an agreement in everyone's best interest," the statement said.
HEA President Karen Mikota said reentering negotiations will not keep the teachers out of the classrooms. She said they can continue to work under their current contract while negotiations are under way.
Mikota said the HEA has met and discussed its options under the board's decision last week. She said the union will continue discussing its options in the negotiations as more information becomes available.
The HEA statement also said that the teacher's union commends both the teachers and board representatives for their hard work in an effort to arrive at a mutually agreeable contract.
Members of the negotiating team attended training in the IBB process last November before the negotiations began. The principal of IBB negotiations is to work from the grounds of common interests found between the groups negotiating, and finding solutions to the perceived issues arising from the common interests.