Collective Bargaining time is not easy for central office administrators, as often tensions can develop that are not there the rest of the year, as the various units begin the process for their unit. There is no general “set formula” for administrators to handle collective bargain except to be as fair as possible and to carefully listen to each and every proposal. As most of us know the requests can be either in contract language or in compensation, which needs to be determined.
The general feeling that I always received at collective bargaining time is one of caution between the negotiators and the school administration as the process moved proposals to potential contract language. School superintendents often take various positions when it comes to
negotiations with several feeling they had to stay away from the process entirely and let someone else do it. There were days when Human Resource central office administrators did the bulk of the work in this area, gathering the data and information needed but unfortunately these folks are less in numbers these days.
I was a superintendent who did get involved with the collective bargaining process, knowing the school committee would make the final decisions but I was the person seeing these folks each and every-day, plus I felt comfortable to be doing so, knowing when to stop before a conversation was off limits for me. Key to most requests from various units are proposals with “no impact on funding” but yet very meaningful to the negotiating team. I always felt that was an area to listen to carefully and build some trust, which is so important as well as the time and courtesy to think seriously each proposal being proposed.
Honesty, integrity, and sincerity are absolutes to make this process a success.
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