MEDFORD, Ore. – What was meant to be a quick check-in with the mediator turned into an eight-hour bargaining session Tuesday. The two sides went home to rest up, the district saying they’ll be going in hopeful when bargaining resumes in the morning.
The day began with a rocky start with both sides accusing the other of not coming to the table. But as teachers rallied outside the district’s room at the Rogue Regency Inn, the two teams had what the district calls a turning point.
After an opening proposal was sent by the district, the MEA requested a side-bar, calling for each team to send two representatives to meet face to face.
Now, two side-bar sessions and an undisclosed amount of proposals later, the district says they understand each other better than they had before.
“For us that was the first really clear, positive sign that maybe things have changed and we can move ahead,” said Superintendent Dr. Phil Long. “And I really appreciate that.”
The two sides still have more to work out around early retirement, health benefits, and working conditions.
Bargaining is set to resume Wednesday, the district saying they hope to be able to come to a deal before the end of the day. Meanwhile, the MEA continued to hold internal meetings into the night in preparation for bargaining ahead.