Dallas School Board agrees to binding arbitration in teacher contract talks

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]
Dallas teachers walk to the high school auditorium for a school board meeting earlier this summer. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader -

DALLAS TWP. — The Dallas School Board has voted unanimously to agree to a proposal for binding arbitration to end teacher contract talks once and for all. District Solicitor Vito Deluca said the move was a response to a suggestion by Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury.

The motion was “to authorize the solicitor to contact Judge Amesbury and convey the district’s agreement to his request that the Dallas School District and Dallas Education Association enter into binding, final best offer arbitration with a neutral arbitrator selected by the court to resolve the contract dispute between the parties,” Deluca said.

Deluca said he could not comment any further.

The move is the latest turn in an often turbulent negotiation process that began in 2014 for a contract that expired in August 2015. The teachers have gone on strike three times. And when Amesbury ordered them back to work in June, he also ordered daily negotiations beginning July 11.

But the board didn’t show up July 17 and 18. Deluca, claiming it was too difficult for the same five members to be at daily negotiations, filed an appeal. The union filed a petition to have the district declared in contempt of court. Amesbury stopped short of that but urged both sides back to the table.

It worked, with each side dropping their court actions and resuming talks Saturday.

The board’s decision to agree to binding arbitration is unusual. State law allows two strikes in a single school year, with non-binding arbitration after the first strike but before the second strike. Non-binding arbitration has almost never resulted in a resolution locally, but it is common for the two sides to come out of the process saying it helped move the discussion forward.

Dallas teachers walk to the high school auditorium for a school board meeting earlier this summer. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_TTL061918DSboard_3CMYK.jpgDallas teachers walk to the high school auditorium for a school board meeting earlier this summer. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish