Negotiations Go To Impasse After Union’s Rejection

Fiona Murphy, Co-Editor-in-Chief

September 15, 2019

Correction: Before a hearing, the two parties will meet with a mediator to attempt to reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties will gather information and prepare their cases to present before a labor judge.

Superintendent Roger MacDonald declared an impasse Friday afternoon with the Northern Humboldt Teachers’ Union regarding health benefits and salary adjustments. Following the unions’ unanimous rejection of the district’s offer, Macdonald sent an email announcing the impasse to the negotiations chair and English teacher JoAnn Moore, which was subsequently shared with union members.

A state of impasse between the teachers’ union and district means negotiations failed and, in this case, the district believes an agreement is impossible without bringing in a third party. 

Both parties will now gather information supporting their stance and prepare to present their case.

When a hearing can be arranged, a labor judge will review the two arguments. Based on their findings, the judge will issue a decision. 

From that point, as Moore explained, “[The union] can accept the decision or reject it. If rejected, a strike vote can be called.”

The declaration of impasse came as a surprise to Moore and the negotiations team.

“It was unexpected, as no ‘best and final’ offer was given to us, as is usual practice in bargaining,” she said.

In an email sent to Moore on Friday, Macdonald stated complaints of “bad faith bargaining on the part of NHUHSDTA’s negotiators.” He believed that “the parties had entered into an oral tentative agreement on compensation,” before the rejection of terms by the union. 

Moore, however, rejected Macdonald’s accusations. 

“We did not bargain in bad faith. In fact, we did everything we said we would do,” responded Moore in her email to the Superintendent, “as well, you should remember there is no such thing as a verbal tentative agreement.”

As the teachers’ union and District prepare for the impasse hearing, Moore gave words of encouragement to the staff. 

“This wasn’t the outcome anyone on the negotiations team was hoping for, but we also know you are worth every penny of what we are asking from the District.” Moore said in her email to the union members. 

Superintendent Macdonald was unavailable for interview, but stated, “I am confident that through this process we will reach an agreement that is good for our employees, our District and our students this year and into the future,” in an email to Pepperbox.