Rochester Community Schools and Rochester Education Association Reach Agreement

The Board of Education of the Rochester Community Schools proudly approved the tentative agreement between the Rochester Community Schools Board of Education and the Rochester Education Association at Tuesday’s Board meeting.

“We believe that we have reached an agreement that is the culmination of collaborative efforts to recognize and acknowledge the loving, caring, and highly skilled educators that teach and work with our students every day,” said Chief Human Resource Officer Elizabeth Davis.

Administrators representing the District and the Rochester Education Association (REA)/Michigan Education Association engaged in negotiations using Interest Based Bargaining, a process new to the District. The members, including Superintendent, Dr. Robert Shaner, received training in December 2018 on this process, and bargaining began in January 2019.

“I was really delighted when Bob and Beth approached us about the Interest Based Bargaining process. It really is an interest-based, problem-solving model,” said REA President Doug Hill. “The product presented tonight was a lot of hard work. There are fingerprints on the agreement from just about everyone who was part of the team. Together we are a lot smarter and a lot wiser than we are individually.”

“I want to thank the district for going down this road. It’s such an awesome process,” said Rob Byrd, REA high school trustee and Rochester High School math teacher. “Every day, the kids were at the forefront of the process. It was outstanding.”

The teams participated in 19 bargaining sessions and spent more than 120 hours together. Additional time was spent in small committees or pairs to develop options and language on non-economic issues.

Following a six-month process, the teams agreed upon options that became the final tentative agreement. The bargaining teams then took the options and developed contractual language. The REA membership ratified the tentative agreement on June 27, 2019.

“This agreement is representative of a change in culture within the district that I have witnessed over my seven years as a Board member. The cooperation and mutual respect between the parties grew out of the culture of collaboration that we value so highly. It’s amazing. It really should be held up as a model for all districts,” said Board Treasurer Mike Zabat.

The former labor contract covered the period from August 16, 2013, through June 30, 2019. The new agreement is a two-year agreement, from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021.

“The teams have brought labor relations within our district to a new level. This is an outstanding example for our children and an outstanding example of the importance of working toward consensus,” said Shaner. “We establish consensus through building deep, meaningful relationships. Nothing pleased me more than to see this group of people become a cohesive team in front of our community. I am extremely proud.”

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