DALLAS TWP. — The two sides have agreed to resume daily negotiations in the Dallas teacher contract dispute, beginning this weekend. The move honors a court order issued by Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on June 21, and the agreement includes both sides withdrawing court action related to that order.
The district and the union issued a joint written statement that says both parties “have agreed not to offer any further comment.” The statement notes they will resume negotiations on Saturday.
The most recent teacher contract expired in August 2015, and negotiations began in 2014. Talks have often been acrimonious, including a protracted strike that itself created legal confusion regarding whether the union stayed on the picket line longer than state law allows.
Amesbury got involved following a one-day strike — the third strike in the saga — in June, when he ordered teachers back to work, then held a hearing at which he ordered daily negotiations beginning July 11.
Both sides met through July 16, but the school board didn’t show up July 17 and 18, and the district filed an appeal of Amesbury’s order. The union, in turn, filed a petition asking that the district be found in contempt of the negotiation order.
At a hearing, Amesbury fell short of ordering the two sides back to work, though he did expect the appeals court would rule the appeal illegal based on case law. Initially, the odds of a return to the table without a court order seemed bleak.
A return to the bargaining table became possible because the district agreed to drop the appeal and the union agreed to withdraw the contempt petition. The statement says the two sides “will negotiate in good faith until a successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by the parties.”
Here is what the joint statement said:
“The Dallas School District and the Dallas Education Association are pleased to announce that on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 they have agreed to resume daily bargaining pursuant to the Honorable William Amesbury’s June 21, 2018 order. Specifically, in good faith efforts to resume bargaining towards a successor collective bargaining agreement the Dallas School District has agreed to withdraw its appeal of Judge Amesbury’s bargaining order and the Dallas Education Association has agreed to withdraw its contempt petition. The parties have come together to resolve their differences regarding the foregoing and will negotiate in good faith until a successor collective bargaining agreement is ratified by the parties. Pending negotiations this weekend, the parties have agreed not to offer any further comment.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish