By EMMALEE C. TORISK
A months-long dispute over contract negotiations between the Campbell Board of Education and the Campbell Education Association, the union representing 93 of the district’s educators, ended Tuesday when both parties approved a new, two-year contract.
The contract will be in effect through June 30, 2015, and is the product of last week’s resumed negotiations that involved the two sides’ bargaining teams along with the federal mediator.
The previous contract expired July 1, and until Tuesday, had been replaced with a last-and-best contract offer, which was implemented by the board in late June after it declared an ultimate impasse.
But with the unanimous passage of the new contract at a special meeting of the board Tuesday evening, that contract offer was rescinded, as was a 10-day strike notice, which was issued by the CEA for Aug. 26, the first-teacher-report day.
Colleen Joss, CEA spokeswoman, said she’s thankful for and pleased with the new contract, which union members voted to accept, 59-2, Tuesday morning.
She added that the bargaining teams for the union and the board “worked hard” to come up with an agreement that was fair to both sides, and spent 10-consecutive hours July 23 doing just that.
“The CEA was hopeful that the hard work and long hours would provide a fruitful outcome,” Joss said. “Everybody’s pleased with the results. Nobody really wanted to see a strike in the end.”
Likewise, Tom Robey, schools superintendent, said he’s relieved that negotiations, which have been ongoing since mid-March, culminated in a satisfactory agreement.
“Obviously, it was challenging, but [the contract] was approved,” Robey said. “It’s behind us. We now need to work on increasing enrollment and beginning the process of planning for the school year.”
Joss said the new contract allows the district’s educators to, for the first time in several years, “move forward instead of backward” in terms of cost-of-living and health care.
For example, teachers were able to maintain the step raises of their contracts and also receive additional yearly contributions to their health-care coverage, Robey said.
Representatives from both sides previously had indicated that a host of issues, many of them financial, had become enmeshed in negotiations.
One point of contention for the union involved the district’s considering keeping Robey, who will be replaced officially by Matthew Bowen on Thursday, as a part-time consultant through Dec. 31.
The board approved Robey’s repositioning Tuesday, adding that Robey will work no more than 30 days between Aug. 1 and the year’s end. Robey estimated that his compensation, including benefits, would not exceed $16,000.
Despite recent difficulties, Joss said union members are optimistic.
“The CEA looks forward to the coming school year and working with the new superintendent, and hopes to develop a good working relationship with him and the board in the future,” she said.