New union negotiator in Dallas teacher contract talks; session ‘productive’

By Eileen Godin - [email protected]
Dallas High School is seen in a file photo. A nearly seven-hour contract negotiation meeting with the Dallas Education Association on Tuesday night was “productive,” according to Dallas School Board member Patrick Musto. - Times Leader file

DALLAS TWP. — A seven-hour negotiation meeting with the Dallas Education Association on Tuesday was “productive,” according to Dallas School Board member Patrick Musto.

Six school board members met with Mark McDade, of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, to negotiate a new contract for teachers. They have been working under the terms of a deal that expired in August 2015.

“There was more give-and-take than ever before,” Musto said, adding the meeting started at 5:30 p.m. and ended about 12:40 a.m.

Michael Cherinka, president of the Dallas Education Association, and PSEA attorney John Holland were not present, Musto said.

McDade is now the chief negotiator for the union.

Details of the meeting are being kept under wraps — for now.

When asked for meeting highlights, Musto deferred to school board attorney Vito DeLuca.

“I don’t want to jeopardize anything by putting something out there,” DeLuca said Wednesday.

McDade also would not divulge any proposal details but said both parties made offers.

“Both parties demonstrated movement,” McDade said. “There is no agreement at this time.”

Another negotiation session is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29, and “the board is expected to present a revised offer to bring both sides closer to an agreement,” said McDade.

In other news:

• The union won an arbitration hearing on a grievance filed against the school board’s 2016-17 decision not to pay teachers for seven contracted, but unworked days, Cherinka said in a text message Wednesday morning.

DeLuca confirmed the news, adding the arbitrator stated the issue was a labor dispute and the board did not have jurisdiction to determine if the 22-day strike that started in November 2016 was illegal when the union extended the strike by three days past the state-issued Dec. 13 return-to-class date.

The school board did seek advice from the state Department of Education, Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System, the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Labor Relations Board before making the decision, DeLuca said.

The district could recoup nearly $500,000 in wages, health care and pensions.

DeLuca will now file an appeal with the Court of Common Pleas.

Dallas High School is seen in a file photo. A nearly seven-hour contract negotiation meeting with the Dallas Education Association on Tuesday night was “productive,” according to Dallas School Board member Patrick Musto.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL03xx18DallasHighSchool-2.jpgDallas High School is seen in a file photo. A nearly seven-hour contract negotiation meeting with the Dallas Education Association on Tuesday night was “productive,” according to Dallas School Board member Patrick Musto. Times Leader file

By Eileen Godin

[email protected]

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

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