Members of the United Teachers of Wichita governing body say they have “major concerns” with a tentative contract agreement announced last month and are urging members to reject it.
“We have major concerns with the tentative agreement, the process upon which it was agreed upon, and the way in which it was reported,” the group said in an e-mail Tuesday to Wichita teachers.
The union’s executive board decided Monday “that the tentative agreement as written be presented to the bargaining unit for a vote with a recommendation that it not be accepted,” the e-mail said.
That could mean a return to the bargaining table for union representatives and Wichita school district officials after announcing one of the earliest tentative agreements in recent history.
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And it is another sign of internal struggles at the UTW, which represents Wichita’s 4,000 teachers. The union is in the midst of a leadership change after president Randy Mousley lost his re-election bid to Southeast High School teacher Steve Wentz earlier this year.
Wentz will take over Monday as president of the union.
Mousley and Wichita superintendent John Allison on Monday released details of the tentative agreement, which Mousley said had been approved by members of both negotiating teams.
Mousley recently recused himself from the union’s executive board and said he would not participate in further discussions about the tentative agreement.
Union officials said in their e-mail Tuesday that Mousley and Allison released the details “without any discussion” with members of the UTW negotiations team or the union’s executive board.
Heather Bruce, the union’s vice president, and Dwight Goodman, spokesman for the UTW negotiations team, “are in the process of contacting the BOE’s team to address the concerns,” the e-mail said.
The tentative agreement includes a one-year salary freeze and cuts the school year from 190 to 188 days with no loss of pay. It also includes higher health care premiums for tobacco users and employees’ spouses who are eligible for health care coverage elsewhere. It also proposes a work group to study changes to the teacher evaluation process.