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Fairbanks educational labor unions comment on upcoming negotiations with school board

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:57 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Education Support Staff Association (ESSA) and Fairbanks Education Association (FEA) have called for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District School Board to meet with them in order to bargain for new language to be added to their contracts.

This new language would reinforce health and safety of staff and students in lieu of the CDC recommended Smart Start guidelines for schools reopening that were previously being followed by the board.

“Because we’re in a pandemic, and because neither our contracts or the district ever really planned for a pandemic, who does? In the absence of that language, let’s outline what would be some best practices that is laid out by CDC, that’s laid out by state health too,” said Jasmine Adkins-Brown, President of ESSA.

According to Adkins-Brown, when the school board made the decision not to continue following the plan laid out and agreed upon by all parties, the associations felt compelled to pursue more official, legal measures.

“We’ve been very careful and we’ve worked diligently to make sure that the things that we’ll be opening will be very surgical, and we’re looking at language that has to do with hazardous workplace environments, work related injuries, classroom use, classroom safety, and of course the use of sick leave and how we can navigate this,” said Sandi Ryan, FEA President.

The associations’ notices for mid-term bargaining were sent to the school board on December 23rd, with high schools slated to reopen for optional in-person learning on February 1st.

“We received a letter from Ivory McDaniels, head of HR, yesterday morning, just outlining a response from the district - and we in turn responded to the district this morning from our bargaining team saying that we would be ready to meet with them on Friday,” said Adkins-Brown.

The FEA and ESSA say they are currently awaiting a response from the school board as to when negotiations will begin.

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