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DOE's collective bargaining agreement with union was long time coming

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It's been more than half a decade since they last had one. We first brought you the big news out of the Department of Education today that the collective bargaining agreement for the island's public school teachers has been approved.

The governor signing off on that long overdue agreement today. It's one that will benefit the thousands of men and women that educate our island's youth.

It's about time, as DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "We've been working on this since 2012. I think the basic issue was we still want to see an agreement in place so we can have clear expectations, clear rules, clear modes of engagement whoever the superintendent is, we would have something documented in approved form."

It's been six long years of negotiations - the likes of which Fernandez says was true to its name, a collaborative working relationship. "Over the past few years negotiations have been off and on, we passed a support staff contract with the GFT, we worked with the teacher's contract, we sent it to the Attorney General for review in March, she had a number of concerns. Maybe three or four hours we came to an agreement on how to resolve those concerns."

DOE officials today confirmed the collective bargaining agreement between the education board and the Guam Federation of teachers is now official. "It's been more than a decade, and an agreement has been reached, but reading between the lines, what does this really mean for Guam's teachers?" questioned the superintendent.

For teachers like Sanjay Sharma, who is also the GFT president, having a CBA protects their working environment. "With having a CBA in place it means the teachers are finally get paid for after school programs," he told KUAM News.  "We're not asking for over time on this we're just asking that teachers get paid what they're supposed to be paid."

GEB chair Maria Gutierrez also stated, "This is the most positive collaborative relationship I've seen between the board and the union." She highlights the hundreds of hours of work put into this agreement.

Hard work and collaboration that Sanjay hopes to see in the near future.

"Hopefully with the administrators and with the teachers we'll carry through with enforcing the CBA," Sharma said. "I would like to see is training developed for the principals as well as for incoming teachers we need refreshers as to what the changes were and what our new teachers can be expecting with the new CBA."

Now that an agreement is in place, GFT members are meeting this evening to discuss those next steps.

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