Shortcomings of the Collective Bargaining Process

The collective bargaining process has many characteristics that tend to produce agreements that fail to meet the needs of school districts, teachers, and their students. The purpose of this section is to provide school board members, parents, teachers, and community members with an understanding of these characteristics and how they often negatively affect the quality of a local school district's educational product.

To avoid being manipulated during the bargaining process, school board members must understand collective bargaining, know the needs of their district, be aware of what any proposed contract says, and consider the long-term effects on the district of any agreed-upon contract language. This last item is especially important, as many districts fail to consider what the consequences of negotiated language will be five or ten years down the road.

School board members should therefore approach the bargaining table with the same level of professional ability, determination, skill, and understanding exhibited by full-time union negotiators. They should also involve the public in the process, constantly communicating the facts about the negotiations to parents, taxpayers, the school employees themselves, and other citizens. "Labor peace at any price" is simply an unacceptable and short-sighted approach.51

The costs-administrative, educational, financial, or otherwise-of the collective bargaining process are discussed below.