After 18 months of negotiations, Mat-Su teachers move closer to a strike

Colony High School (Image from Mat-Su Borough School District)

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District teachers union took one more step toward a strike by beginning a strike vote of all members, according to a press release by the Mat-Su Education Association. 

The Tuesday morning vote is a legal requirement and does not mean that a strike will take place, the release says. 

“Our teachers, psychologists, nurses, and everyone else working without a contract in the middle of this pandemic simply want to be respected and valued by the School Board,” said Dianne K. Shibe, president of the association, in the release. 

Mat-Su teachers have been working on an expired contract for over a year. Tensions escalated between teachers and the district when the school board presented the district with a “last best offer” and Superintendent Randy Trani published an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News supporting the offer. 

The union represents 1292 certified employees including teachers, nurses, and librarians, and other district staff. And the vote will take place over the next three days. 

“Every single member I’ve spoken to would rather have a fair contract than go out on strike, but they are prepared to strike if the Board won’t come back and negotiate,” said Shibe in the release. 

The district sent an email to families notifying them of the pending vote and explained the union must give the district 72 hours notice if it decides to strike. “If the district receives such notice, or is earlier informed that the teachers have voted to strike, the district will provide parents further information,” the email said. “Fortunately, there is still time for resolution.”