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GRANITE OKS CONTRACTS WITH TEACHERS; IMPASSE REMAINS IN WORKER TALKS

The Granite Board of Education approved teacher contracts Wednesday, only to learn that non-teaching personnel in the district have declared an impasse in negotiations.

The contract recently ratified by 94 percent of the members of Granite Education Association who voted on the pact gives teachers a 3 percent increase, plus additions to some benefit categories.Both Lamoine Heaton of the GEA and McKell Withers, administration representative in the negotiations, said discussions this year were amiable and professional.

The Granite Classified Employees Association, however, has refused to sign a contract because it contains a provision that discontinues the agreement after June 30, 1994.

William Green, the administration spokesperson in negotiations with the classified union, told the board he was surprised that the proposed pact had snagged over the expiration date.

He said he was under the impression agreement had been reached after a recent meeting. He expected union representative Mike Hepner to come to his office the following day to sign the document. Instead, Hepner refused to sign, citing the union's dissatisfaction with the discontinuance clause.

"We felt the job was done. We believe it was bad-faith bargaining (on the part of the union.) We don't want to meet again," said Green.

In a letter to Green, Hepner declared an impasse, stating, "It was never the intention or the understanding of the GCEA's negotiating team to have the `agreement' discontinued after June 30, 1994. In the past, the existing agreement has continued in effect unless items were changed through mutual agreement."

In the past, expiration wording was not included in the text of the contract, he said. However, Green noted that contracts had been routinely dated on the cover with an expiration. Teacher contracts contain such a clause.

The expiration clause was discussed during negotiations, but did not seem to be a stumbling block, Green said. The proposed GCEA agreement says that negotiations will reopen on the first contract day of May 1993, protecting the union's interests, he said.

The board, which by law has 30 days to respond to the union action, voted not to agree to the impasse. Board members asked Green to meet with Hepner to see if mutually agreeable wording can be worked out without involvement of full negotiating teams.

"This is much ado about nothing, " said Board member Lynn Davidson. "No contract is open-ended." Routinely, employer-employee agreements are negotiated for a certain time period, with re-negotiation assured at the end of the term, he said.