Bargaining Season Opens on Nov. 1

Negotiators, Members Advised to Know Dates, Work with NSEA Field Staff

Although now six years old, LB397 fundamentally changed the way teaching contracts are bargained in Nebraska.

Before LB397, contract negotiations might have extended into the summer and sometimes even into the school year that was being bargained.

With LB397, the Legislature set a firm bargaining schedule with a timeline and deadlines that most experienced negotiators have now internalized. Even so, it’s a good idea to help your local association bargaining team and negotiators better understand the importance of those dates.

The statutory start of bargaining for the 2018-19 contract is Nov. 1. That means that negotiations teams need to have met with their school board counterpart on or by that date in order to set future meeting dates.

They may also discuss issues of interest, but need not have exchanged proposals.

Association and school board bargaining teams then essentially have two months to bargain, with a goal of wrapping up negotiations with a tentative agreement sometime in January.

Locals that have met to bargain at least four times and have still not reached agreement should be in regular consultation with their NSEA organizational specialist by January. Provisions in the new law force negotiations to adhere to tight timelines once bargaining nears the end of January, so working closely with your NSEA organizational specialist becomes critical.

While the statutory timeline now offers firm dates for negotiators, the overall calendar provides for several weeks of bargaining and has resulted in a smooth and often constructive process.

“Most important, negotiators should be aware of problematic comments, proposals and strategies they observe during contract talks, and they should share those issues with their NSEA organizational specialist,” said Randy Gordon, NSEA’s collective bargaining specialist.

Also on the agenda for local associations this fall is the highly recommended request for recognition to bargain the 2019-20 agreement. Although that contract will not be negotiated for another year, by making the request for that required action before the current bargaining takes place, local associations can avoid board confusion later this fall.

Local associations that are certified bargaining agents only need to notify their local school board of their desire to begin negotiations each fall.

If your local association is interested in attaining certified bargaining agent status, contact your NSEA organizational specialist at 1-800-742-0047.