by John Rosales
Eight years ago, the presidents of four locals affiliated with the Washington Education Association (WEA) met at a diner in the Yakima Valley. Their agenda included an item that would dominate their business meetings for years to come: negotiating with the school district as a single unit while bargaining separate contracts.
The strategy was untried, but something was needed to counter the efforts of Yakima School District officials who were blocking contract settlements with unjustified delays, scare tactics, and a “divide and conquer” approach.
As a first step, the local presidents each agreed to attend the other groups’ bargaining sessions, says Janet Beck, a WEA MidState UniServ director and staff negotiator.
“They have since ended up supporting each other to the point where one or more groups might settle for less compensation, for example, in order for another group to get closer to earning a living wage,” she adds.
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