JEA calls strike preparation meeting; district to hold special session on bargaining

Some teachers started making strike stickers last month.

The Juneau Education Association has called a strike preparation meeting for Thursday.

Over the last ten months, negotiations between the Juneau School District and the teachers union have gone nowhere.

“We don’t have a contract.  It’s December. Something has to happen,” says Dirk Miller, JEA vice president.

The teachers’ contract expired in June and for the second year the district has said there’s no room in the budget for an increase. Teachers are asking for a cost of living adjustment in the next agreement.

Last month teachers started sporting stickers stating “I don’t want to strike but I will.” Now some teachers are sending notes home with students saying they won’t be working after school hours anymore.  While Miller says no one wants a strike,  Thursday’s meeting will help teachers figure out the next step.

 “You know, it’s a big deal. These things don’t happen because someone’s mad for a day. It’s a careful process and nobody wants to go there, but this is the time that we have to start at least talking about what happens if we strike and how does it work,” he says.

In his 15 years teaching, Miller says he recalls only one other discussion about a possible strike.

The school district and JEA met in arbitration in October; post-hearing briefs are due on Friday.  The arbitrator’s opinion is expected in January, but it will be advisory only.

In an email to KTOO Tuesday, district officials said they hope to reach a solution with teachers that doesn’t compromise student programs or jobs.  The administration has called a special board meeting for Wednesday evening at the district office.

The teacher’s strike preparation meeting is part of a JEA general meeting on Thursday at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School.