The Clark County School District and teachers union plan to return to the bargaining table next week following meetings with Gov. Joe Lombardo.
Negotiation sessions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, a union spokesperson said.
The Clark County Education Association, which represents about 18,000 licensed employees, requested help from Lombardo with facilitating contract negotiations. It followed a member meeting on Aug. 26 to decide on next steps.
Lombardo’s office said Wednesday that the governor met last week with the union and district “together and separately.”
“In their meetings, Governor Lombardo encouraged both parties to continue negotiations to find a resolution in the best interest of our students and teachers,” the governor’s office said in an emailed statement.
‘Very productive conversation’
Contract negotiations began in late March between the district and union. A two-year collective bargaining agreement hasn’t been reached over topics like pay, benefits and working conditions.
The union’s Executive Director John Vellardita said Wednesday that he wanted to clarify that the union’s request was not for Lombardo to mediate a contract dispute.
The union met with Lombardo Aug. 30 and provided a full explanation to the governor of its contract proposals, he said.
Vellardita said he thought it was a “very productive conversation” and the union invited the governor to hold it accountable.
The state appropriated more than $2 billion in new K-12 public education funding for the next two years, as well as $250 million for school districts for employee raises.
Vellardita said the governor’s message was that contract negotiations have gone on long enough and a solution is needed in order to get back to focusing on teaching students.
“And we agree with that,” he said.
The governor encouraged both sides to return to the bargaining table, Vellardita said.
The district said Aug. 30 that it shared its “fair, equitable, and financially responsible” bargaining proposal with Lombardo that day, and that Superintendent Jesus Jara looks forward to further conversations with the governor.
“Since before his election, Superintendent Jara has had a cordial and productive relationship with Governor Lombardo to ensure resources are provided for students to succeed academically and for our educators who deserve proper compensation,” the district wrote in a statement.
The district said Wednesday it “remains eager to get back to the bargaining table and has been waiting since the last session on August 18 for CCEA to respond with dates.”
More union rallies
In late July, the district filed a lawsuit against the union seeking a court injunction to prevent a future teacher strike.
A judge denied the request last month, saying there’s not enough evidence that a strike will occur but that Vellardita’s statements were concerning and she could reconvene court quickly if needed.
Union officials said last week that a strike — which is prohibited under state law for public employees — isn’t an option on the table.
Union members have protested since July amid contract negotiations, including at two school board meetings and in front of schools.
At least three district schools reported staffing issues this week — Monaco Middle School in the east valley, Southeast Career Technical Academy and Gibson Elementary School in Henderson — after an unexpected number of teachers were absent. Teachers union officials said the absences weren’t linked to union actions associated with collective bargaining.
Vellardita said Wednesday that rallies are continuing in front of schools. Several rallies were also held this week near intersections across the valley.
The union is holding a meeting Friday for its building leaders, or the educators who represent schools and are elected by their colleagues.
Union and CCSD proposals
The union wants a 10 percent raise for educators during the first year of a new contract and 8 percent in the second. Its proposal also includes a 5 percent salary increase for special education teachers and a $5,000 increase for hard-to-fill positions.
Over the last few weeks, the district has issued late Friday afternoon or evening news releases with information about its bargaining proposal.