Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor
Rinesa Kabashi staff writer
The BHUSD and the Teacher’s Union, or the Beverly Hills Education Association (BHEA), have been at an impasse over contract negotiations since March 2018. The results of this impasse have now escalated to a fact-finding period, in which the union, as of Friday, Aug. 24, decided to only fulfill their contractual duties. On Tuesday, Aug. 21, superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy sent out an informational email to BHUSD students and parents, as well as posted the same letter on the BHUSD website, which serves as an educational piece of information with anyone inquiring about the effects of the negotiations. The BHEA also has additional information on their website.
Q: What is an “impasse?’
A: The impasse is a result of a failure to come to an agreement over the 2017-2018 labor contract. The district declared impasse when the regular negotiations weren’t achieving anything. An impasse, or an agreement that the parties involved in the negotiations disagree on a given topic and are therefore choosing to stop negotiating directly, was called. An impartial mediator from the State Mediation and Conciliation Service, who acts as an adviser, was asked to step in to allow both parties to look closely at what the other is presenting, and hopefully come to a compromise about the teacher’s pay and benefits.
Q: Why have negotiations been taking so long, and why has it escalated to this point?
A: The union has requested to keep the current salary formula, which is based off revenue from property taxes in Beverly Hills. The district wishes to eliminate the salary formula, that was put in place five years ago, because of financial difficulties. With the BHUSD average health care benefits, $6,000 below the average of other unified school districts in Los Angeles County, the union is requesting an increase of benefits, as well keeping the same salary formula.
Q: What is “fact-finding?’
A: A fact-finding period was initiated after a mediation period, where the mediator decided they couldn’t come to a compromise. This period entails for a neutral fact-finder to analyze the facts of the bargaining process from beginning to end and seek to recognize a potential compromise.
Q: What is “work-to-contract”?
During this time period, teachers in the union could opt to “work-to-contract.” This would mean that teachers would only work to what their contracts require them to do. Their doors would be closed to students during nutrition, lunch and after-school. They would not be required to write letters of recommendation for seniors applying to colleges nor would they be required to sponsor any clubs. The teachers would, however, be required to work during their given prep periods; this includes helping students, speaking to parents, grading, planning, etc., but does not include working outside of their designated school hours. Every teacher has a right to choose whether or not they will opt to follow the “work-to-contract.”
Q: What will happen if the district and BHEA still can’t come to a conclusion?
If after the fact-finding period, which can last a maximum of 60 days, the efforts for an impasse resolution were to fail, the union could take a vote and potentially go on strike. There has not been a strike within the BHUSD since 1989. Both sides have affirmed that they are hoping a negotiation can be made as soon as possible. Whatever the results may be, if any student wishes to learn more about the situation as it progresses, s/he may attend a Board of Education meeting, which take place every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. The next Board of Education meeting is on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. The schedule for the meetings can be found here.