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Northwest teachers end ‘work to rule’

Teachers union in Northwest Area School District cites progress at bargaining table.

Citing “constructive progress at the bargaining table,” the Northwest Area School District teachers union announced Sunday that it will end “work to rule” action today, meaning teachers will do work that is not expressly in the contract.

Teacher unions often order “work to rule” action in an effort to nudge school boards into concessions at the bargaining table. In a press release, union lead negotiator Matt Gruenloh said the purpose of such action “was to show the amount of work teachers do voluntarily each day for which they do not receive compensation nor expect any.”

That work can include coming to the building a little early to monitor student arrivals and staying after school for club or other extra-curricular activities.

Gruenloh said that “since we’ve made constructive progress at the bargaining table with the school board, the teachers decided to end working to rule to show our good faith and move forward towards settling the contract dispute.”

The press release says the union presented a “proposal for settlement” recently “in which several concessions were made in an effort to end the four-year labor dispute.”

Board Member Charles Brace said the union had presented a new offer earlier this month during a negotiation session, and that the board had discussed it in executive session at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Brace declined comment on the details of the latest offer. The union has complained in the past when Northwest or other school boards released information about proposals to the public. He said the teachers had modified their offer, but hinted the change was not as substantial as the union had suggested.

“Any movement is good news, but they are in a world separate from much of the rest of the normal working people, and things they feel are concessions aren’t viewed the same way by people out there who are unemployed with no insurance, or who are trying to do the best work they can just to maintain their jobs,” Brace said.

The two sides have another negotiating session near the end of this month, Brace said.

The teacher contract expired in August 2005.

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