PUBLIC STATEMENT OF ANESU BARGAINING COUNCIL REGARDING LETTER FROM JOHN JEFFERIES DATED MARCH 9, 2017, THAT BARGAINING COUNCIL RECEIVED ON MARCH 16, 2017
Representatives of the governing boards of the member districts of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, together with representatives of the Addison Northeast Education Association who represent teachers and education support personnel, are currently negotiating successor collective bargaining agreements for the agreements that will expire on June 30, 2017. In preparation for these negotiations, representatives participated in four (4) Alternative Bargaining training sessions conducted by Cynthia Jeffries, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
At the conclusion of this training, Board and Association representatives decided to conduct this round of contract negotiations using a collaborative model referred to as Critical Issue Bargaining (“CIB”). Given the parties’ lack of experience with CIB, they also agreed to have Commissioner Jeffries mediate all of their direct discussions with each other. Commissioner Jeffries has explained that to facilitate contract negotiations as a mediator, she would need to meet with the parties without other persons present so that her communications with the parties could be kept confidential.
On the evening of December 13, 2016, the parties met with Commissioner Jeffries to discuss ground rules for conducting negotiations. The meeting with Commissioner Jeffries occurred in executive session, with the public excluded. Prior to holding the executive session, the Bargaining Council Chair explained the mediation process that the parties were using for negotiations and Commissioner Jeffries’ role in the process.
The Bargaining Council entered executive session on December 13, 2016, without first making the specific finding required by 1 V.S.A. section 313(a)(1) that premature general public knowledge would clearly place the Bargaining Council at a substantial disadvantage. The absence of this finding in the motion to enter executive session could be viewed as a violation of the Open Meeting Law. The Bargaining Council mistakenly considered the above-mentioned explanation by the Council Chair to be sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.
After ending the executive session, the Bargaining Council considered and approved a motion to adopt the ground rules for the negotiations. To address
.the potential non-compliance of the motion to hold an executive session on December 13, 2016, the Bargaining Council, at a meeting held within 14 days, will ratify the Bargaining Council’s adoption of the ground rules for negotiations with the Addison Northeast Education Association and will confirm that, prior to holding an executive session to consider contracts, labor relations agreements with employees, arbitration and/or mediation, the Council must make a specific finding that premature general public knowledge would clearly place the Bargaining Council or a person involved at a substantial disadvantage.
We are not prepared to acknowledge that negotiations that have occurred between Addison Northeast Education Association representatives and a gathering of less than a quorum of the Bargaining Council were in violation of the Open Meeting Law.
However, at a meeting held within 14 days, the Bargaining Council will announce a list of dates when any such negotiation sessions took place and its decision to refrain from holding any negotiation sessions between Addison Northeast Education Association representatives and a gathering of less than a quorum of the Bargaining Council unless and until a Vermont court rules that such negotiation sessions are not in violation of the Open Meeting Law.
Please direct any questions regarding this statement to Patrick Reen, Superintendent, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union.