Battle Ground Public Schools negotiators met at the bargaining table Saturday with leaders from the Battle Ground Education Association, which represents more than 800 teachers. The two sides have yet to agree on a new labor contract after months of bargaining; the last contract expired Aug. 31.
Unlike unions in Evergreen and Camas, however, Battle Ground’s members voted against going on strike the day before the contract expired, despite months of bargaining without a deal.
With bargaining still ongoing on a semi-weekly to weekly basis, little information is available about key holdups in negotiations. Also unlike Evergreen and Camas, Battle Ground’s district website hasn’t featured copies of preliminary proposals from either side. When on strike, Evergreen teachers said they felt their district’s decision to share unapproved proposals online wasn’t an “act of good faith.”
A Washington Education Association member representing the Battle Ground Education Association said Monday that despite the protracted bargaining process, there’s not an immediate end in sight. The union’s primary requests are similar to what Evergreen and Camas sought: smaller class sizes, wages adjusted to inflation and support for special education.
“One of (the union’s) biggest issues was class size and they are still working on that and, from what it sounds like, have much more work to do,” said Brooke Mattox-Ball, a representative for the union. “Going this route has the potential to take longer to address the educator needs, which are based off what students in their schools deserve. Since no change has been made in class size, some students are experiencing very large classes and educators are experiencing an increase in workload due to it.”
A representative from the district said via email Monday that administrators were “hopeful a deal can be reached soon.”
The next two scheduled bargaining sessions are Wednesday and Tuesday, Sept. 26.