Medford teachers, district can't reach contract deal, call for mediation

Today many Medford teachers returned to their classroom to prepare for the new school year without coming closer to finalizing a contract agreement.

Wednesday's night collective bargaining session, the 11th in five months, ended at 9:30 p.m. with the Medford School District spokesperson declaring that mediation will be needed to resolve the double-digit gap between what the district is offering and the teachers are requesting.

Teachers have to decide how they will handle the disparity in agreements. A few mention that they may vote on striking in the months to come.

A statement just released by the district states that negotiations with the Medford Education Association have not resulted in substantial movement or agreement on key issues and the district has requested contract mediation.

Mediation is a bargaining option provided by state law that allows either group to ask for assistance from an impartial third party in reconciling a labor dispute regarding employment relations. It can only be requested after groups have spent at least 150 days negotiating on their own.

The district will submit its request to the Oregon Employee Relations Board, which will assign a contract mediator to work with two parties.

One teacher who asked not to be named said there are only four qualified mediators in the state and waiting for them to become available may take months.

— Janet Eastman

Read more details in Friday's Mail Tribune.

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