Thursday, 09 March 2017

DOE adopts long-awaited collective bargaining agreement

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"I am very proud that the department and my team were able to get a collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. I think it’s really important that we finally put that thing to rest," -Superintendent Jon Fernandez. 

Guam - After 11 years of heated negotiations, the Guam Board of Education has finally adopted and accepted the Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“I believe 2006 was the last signature on the contract for both management and the union so yes it’s been a long-awaited time since for us to get this contract approved so I'm very happy to get this contract adopted. And I understand the union their membership ratified the contract language on Friday of last week,” said GDOE’s Administrator of Student Support Services.

Members of the Guam Federation of Teachers, the Department of Education, and even newly reinstated Superintendent Jon Fernandez expressed their relief over the long-awaited contract.

"I am very proud that the department and my team were able to get a collective bargaining agreement with our teachers. I think it’s really important that we finally put that thing to rest. We had gone many years --about five or six years without a contract. So, now that we have that document in place, I know it’s going through the signature process and I'm proud that that's one of the issues that has been completed,” the superintendent remarked.

Education Board members credit the superintendent for taking up the initiative to start the negotiations early in his career, but according to Chris Anderson, the Administrator for the Student Support Services, the holdup for the controversial contract was due largely in part to one negotiating factor: duty days.

"Well, I think that duty day was probably the biggest stumbling block for us to be able to get to this point today. But in previous meetings for the board, they gave us the decision to go ahead and negotiate duty day,” he said. 

GDOE defines duty day as the hours teachers are required to be at their work site. Teachers are paid for a full 8 hours, but they are not required to be at their work sites for all 8 hours, which has been a source of contempt and a heated contractual issue.

GFT President Tim Fedenko explained the rationale behind the previous push-backs.

"Duty day was well, the dynamics of the board, the board changed. At one point the previous board said we're not gonna change duty day and that was their orders to the negotiation team. The board changed and they said we'll negotiate duty day. And I think the leadership of the board realized that you know what its teachers duty day, let’s talk about it, let’s negotiate it,” he shared.

Fedenko says other aspects in the contract include teacher expectations from the administration and vice versa as well as an incorporation of new safety measures. All in all, he reiterates that the contract is representation of mutual respect for both the administration and the teachers.

According to Chris Anderson, the newly signed agreement is headed over to the Attorney General's office for vetting and if approved, the contract will ultimately be signed by the governor.

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