DALLAS TWP. — Contract talks between the Dallas School Board and the district’s teacher union are heating up as the first day of school approaches, with one negotiation held Monday afternoon and two more scheduled for the end of the month.
No one is officially talking strike, though union lead negotiator John Holland said the union did vote several months ago to authorize a potential strike if negotiations break down. The current contract expired at the end of August last year, which means, by state law, the two sides have been at the table since January 2015.
Holland said the union gave the board its latest proposal at Monday’s session and the board was expected to respond at the next session Aug. 29. Another negotiation is slated for Aug. 30. The first day of school is Aug. 31.
While a strike remains “an option,” Holland said, “Hopefully, we’ll make progress on the 29th.”
School District Solicitor Vito DeLuca, who has been involved in the negotiations, expressed a similarly cautious attitude. “Both parties have been sitting down for multiple meetings with a mediator, and the district is hopeful we will be able to come to some sort of an agreement,” he said.
By law, the union must give the district notice of a strike at least 48 hours in advance. Teachers can strike twice in one school year. The first strike must end in time for the district to complete the state-mandated 180 days of school by June 15, while a second strike must end in time to complete the 180 days by June 30. Once a strike starts, the state calculates how long it can go on before teachers must return to work.
State law requires non-binding arbitration after the first strike ends. Both sides provide their “final best offers” to a third party, who proposes a resolution. If either side rejects the arbiter’s proposal, the union has the legal option of striking a second time.