BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR – After a very quick meeting Wednesday afternoon, negotiations were underway between the Fort Madison School District and the Fort Madison Education Association.
After reading a brief statement, FMEA Chief Negotiator Angie Rothlauf, a teacher at Lincoln, told the board and about 65 people in attendance, the association is looking for a five-year contract with a 3% yearly increase. She also requested that the district retain bargaining rights, where applicable, as a process despite a change in Iowa law that pulled several articles from collective bargaining laws.
“We believe everyone in attendance sees the value of providing the highest level of instruction to the students of this community in an environment conducive to successful learning,” Rothlauf said.
“While competitive salaries and benefits are essential, there are other also other critical factors that impact a district’s ability to keep educators. With that in mind, we ask the district to consider all aspects of our initial proposal that was prepared with that concept in mind. We are including all provisions in our current contract as part of the initial proposal. We realize that this includes some items that are excluded from formal bargaining. We are doing so to emphasize the fact that most of these items are critical to all employees.”
Rothlauf outlined that the association was seeking a contract duration of five years with a proposed increase of 3% for each of the contract years in addition to earned steps.
Emily Ellingston, the district’s lawyer, spoke on behalf of the district, and kept her discussion to contract language and what will be “delete, permissive” and “delete excluded” which included 13 articles of the current contract. Included in those, in part, were insurance, compensation, leaves, and dues among others. The “delete, excluded” language reflects changes to Chapter 20 laws that were implemented this year.
Rothlauf said it was the association’s hope that all language, that is permissive language under the new law, would be retained in the contract.
The district also proposed that “each eligible employee’s base wages increase the equivalent of one step, as reflected in the salary schedule from the 2016 to 2017 contract”.
A review of the current step increases in that contract showed the percent rates range from 1.08% for newest teachers to 1.48% for the most tenured teacher.
“To the extent that any step movement includes any Teacher Salary Supplement payment, the board identifies such supplemental payment as an excluded topic of bargaining” the offer indicated.
After the initial proposals were exchanged, the meeting was closed to the public.
“We hope we can work together to make it equitable for both sides,” said Lincoln Elementary teacher Susan Johnson after the meeting.