Dallas board waiting on analysis before setting new negotiation sessions

By Eileen Godin - [email protected] | November 30th, 2017 6:36 pm - updated: 6:40 pm.

DALLAS TWP. — Before it agrees to any new negotiation sessions with the teachers union, the Dallas School Board is waiting for a cost analysis of the union’s Nov. 14 contract proposal, school attorney Vito DeLuca said Thursday.

John Holland, the Pennsylvania State Education Association region field director, emailed DeLuca this week with a list of nine dates designed to restart negotiations between the two parties.

The dates range from mid-December to mid-January.

“I have not heard anything back from the board,” Holland said.

Nearly four years of negotiations came to a halt Nov. 14 after the union denied the school board’s Oct. 30 contract proposal, and the union’s counter-proposal was deemed financially unsustainable by the board.

The board promptly canceled the pending Nov. 15 session, which spurred Holland to announce his intent to file an unfair labor practice complaint against the board for refusing to bargain.

Holland has not filed the claim yet, noting he has 120 days to file under state law.

DeLuca confirmed he received Holland’s email, but said the union has not responded to an email sent last week by James Gattuso, a school board and negotiation committee member.

The email sent to Michael Cherinka, the Dallas Education Association president, asked the union to provide a financial breakdown of its Nov. 14 offer and a detailed salary matrix.

The union’s proposal “merely provided numbers,” DeLuca said. It included a $3 million total increase in salary in annual increments of $450,000 to $550,000.

It also called for $900,000 in retroactive pay for two previous years.

“We are waiting for a response from Cherinka on Gattuso’s request before setting a date,” DeLuca said of future negotiations.

On Thursday, Cherinka confirmed he did receive the email Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

“I was away for the holiday and so was John (Holland),” Cherinka said. “You can’t expect a quick turnaround over the holiday weekend. The timing was poor.”

Salary matrix ‘very generous’

Gattuso’s email also stated incoming school board members Susan K. Allen, Edward Dudick Jr. and Christine J. Swailes were briefed on negotiations.

With the new board members about to take their seats, the union rescheduled its Nov. 22 strike date to Jan. 22.

Gattuso, Charles Preece, and Jeff Thomas — who served on the district’s contract negotiation committee — will be replaced by the newcomers.

Allen is committed to resolving the contract issue but notes she cannot serve on the board’s negotiation committee because she is a teacher at the Tunkhannock School District.

“I can provide insight on both sides,” she said.

“We did have a meeting where we reviewed the district’s last proposal,” Allen explained. “It seemed to address the four main (contract) issues.”

The proposed teacher salary matrix was “very generous,” she said.

But she added: “I don’t feel up to speed (on negotiations). I have not had an opportunity to see the union’s offer.”

Dudick and Swailes could not be reached for comment.

The Dallas School Board will hold a reorganizational and general purpose meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in the administration building. The new board members will be sworn in at that time.


By Eileen Godin

[email protected]

Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.