YORK RUN — The Albert Gallatin Area School Board accepted a fact-finding report and accompanying recommendations Wednesday from a state-appointed arbitrator in a labor dispute with the teachers’ union over a new contract.
The report, if approved by the union, will form the basis of a new contract between the two parties to put an end to labor strife in the district as teachers approach one year of working under an expired contract.
The Albert Gallatin Education Association (AGEA) is expected to meet Aug. 6 for a vote of its approximately 240 members to accept the report, according to chief negotiator Jerry Quinn.
Quinn and district Solicitor Lee Price said the contents of the report are required by law to remain confidential for 10 days following the issuance of the report, or unless the report is rejected by either party.
If both parties accept the report, it forms the basis of a new contract. If either party rejects the report, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board releases it to the public and, after a five-day reflection period, a second vote is required. If the report is again rejected, the two sides return to the bargaining table.
The report was issued by fact-finder Michelle Miller-Kotula on July 29, according to the agenda at Wednesday night’s school board meeting. It was unanimously approved by the board.
The two parties entered fact-finding this spring after members of the AGEA in May voted down a proposed three-year contract for district teachers that the school board had approved the prior day.
The fact-finding process can be utilized by school districts and employee groups to resolve contract disputes when traditional negotiations haven’t produced a contract. The process is handled by a third-party intermediary who listens to both sides and offers recommendations.
District teachers, guidance counselors and nurses that comprise the AGEA have worked without a contract since Aug. 15, 2018.
The two parties were initially poised to enter into fact-finding in March in an attempt to end the collective bargaining impasse after the union had requested and was awarded an independent arbitrator by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to mediate a settlement. However, the district and the union came to a tentative agreement through mediation without the need for fact-finding, which resulted in the contract that was rejected by the union and a return to the bargaining table and current fact-finding.