Teacher Talks Set To Resume With Mediator
The District has completed its review of the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) contract proposal and is ready to return to the negotiating table, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said this evening.
Dena Iverson, Rhee's spokeswoman, also said that the District was ready to engage a third-party mediator to untangle the talks, which are now in their 16th month.
They have been stalemated over Rhee's controversial proposals involving merit pay and weakening of teacher tenure. Negotiations have effectively been on hiatus since WTU and its national parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, submitted a long-awaited contract proposal to Rhee on Jan. 31.
The two sides are expected to exchange a list of possible meeting dates by Friday.
"Though our two proposals differ in some key respects, there is much that we agree on," Iverson said in a statement. "On the issues of greatest disagreement, we look forward to engaging a third-party mediator to help bring the two sides together."
Rhee and AFT President Randi Weingarten have discussed mediation in past meetings but have not come to agreement on a suitable third party. Weingarten alluded to this on Monday when she ripped Rhee for discussing the negotiations with New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof and in a lengthy letter to D.C. teachers--while showing no sign of resuming talks with the WTU.
"Instead of delivering one message to teachers, and another to a New York Times columnist, the Chancellor should roll up her sleeves, respond to the WTU's Jan. 31 proposal, consent to a third party as per the initial agreement, and arrive at a bargaining schedule," Weingarten said.
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