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MailTribune.com
  • Months after strike ended, Medford teachers' contract isn't signed

  • More than three months after the Medford School District and its teachers union reached an agreement ending an 11-day strike that sidelined 500 teachers, the new contract still hasn't been signed.
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  • More than three months after the Medford School District and its teachers union reached an agreement ending an 11-day strike that sidelined 500 teachers, the new contract still hasn't been signed.
    It has been ratified by union members and approved by the School Board. But the contract still lacks the signatures to implement it as both parties work to reconcile language in a way that best represents the intent established in their tentative agreement reached Feb. 21.
    Before concluding the bargaining session that night, the two "exhausted" teams initialed the other's draft of the tentative agreement, talked through the language and made notes in the margins of things that would need to be changed or clarified in the final document, said Superintendent Phil Long.
    "We ended up with two similar drafts of the final document," he said.
    Jane Bilodeau, a locally based Oregon Education Association consultant, said the language in the tentative agreement was not the exact language that was going to be used in the final contract.
    "We tried to do our best because of the situation we were in," she said. "But even though we had tentatively agreed, we had to write some notes, make some cross-outs and add some hand-written notes so we knew what the intent was, but the official language itself had to be written."
    Since then, bargaining members from both sides have continued to meet to compose a final draft of the contract and work out the discrepancies in language that exist between the two versions.
    Bilodeau and Long both expressed confidence today that the final document will be completed by the end of the month, which marks the end of the fiscal year.
    However, the contract is not effective until it has been signed by Board Chairman Jeff Thomas, MEA President Cheryl Lashley and Long.
    — Teresa Thomas
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