Judge rules Medford SD bargained in bad faith : OSEA
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Judge rules Medford SD bargained in bad faith

An administrative law judge ruled in an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint filed by OSEA that the Medford School District bargained regressively and in bad faith during negotiations in 2011.

The district and OSEA had a contract in place, but the district sought to return to the bargaining table under a funding clause in response to a projected budgeted deficit.  Members were told at their first meeting with the district that OSEA would be responsible for creating a plan to cut $1.7 million from the district’s budget.

In subsequent meetings, OSEA negotiators were determined to protect about 50 members from further reductions. Those members had seen their compensation cut as much as 24 percent in a previous decision by the district to cut their hours. A tentative agreement was reached between the district and OSEA where employees would pay their 6 percent PERS contribution through June 30, 2012, along with a change to their medical insurance plan.  The 50 members already impacted by cuts were exempted. The agreement was rejected by OSEA members. The district then subsequently began putting forth ideas that were worse than what it had previously proposed.

At Day 139 of a 150-day bargaining period, the district put forth its only written proposal – forcing employees to continue paying the PERS pickup for an undetermined period of time, imposing a 3 percent wage reduction for all employees, and no exemptions for members already impacted by cuts. The bargaining team rejected the District’s proposal and the District implemented the proposal on November 1, 2011. In response, the Oregon School Employees Association filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

The judge found that the district’s long wait to issue its only proposal was an unreasonable delay, with no explanation for the sudden shift in its position. The delay did not allow OSEA adequate time to respond to or bargain the issue, the judge ruled. Previous discussions all had included ending the 6 percent PERS contribution on June 30, 2012; the judge found the district was bargaining regressively by making this offer at such a late stage.

The ruling was issued via a proposed order. The district has filed an objection to the ruling, and the matter will be heard next by the Employment Relations Board. The district could be forced to post signage at all worksites admitting wrongdoing and return to the bargaining table.

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