In what could be viewed as a small step towards resolution in , the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) has agreed to consider the district’s request it appoint a mediator to help settle the conflict.
According to a release from the Phoenixville Area School District, the PLRB will mull the district's request at its September 18 meeting.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation, an agency that acts as a go-between for the district and the PLRB, told the district that it should meet with the union again before this meeting. The district indicated it would honor the request.
If appointed, the fact-finder would have 40 days to take oral and written testimony from both sides and produce a non-binding recommendation. The union and the district would then have ten days to either accept or reject the entirety of the proposal. If either party rejects the proposal, the negotiations will continue.
According to The Mercury, the Phoenixville Area Education Association, the body that represents the district's teachers, has already made it clear they're not interested in third-party involvement.
“The [Phoenixville Area Education Association] is very disappointed that the district chose this path. [The Phoenixville Area Education Association] believes that after 30 months of negotiations, we were within one bargaining session of settlement,” union spokesman Ruthann Waldie said.
The previous CBA expired on June 30, 2010, but, in accordance with Pennsylvania law, both parties are bound by the terms of the old deal until a new one is struck.