What is it Exactly?

     Collective bargaining is the heart and soul of labor unions. It's the process that creates the contract that gives workers their rights and protects them from having to deal with management all by themselves.

     Contracts typically last for three years. When the term is up, the entire contract can be "opened" for bargaining. We, the AEA and the District, AUSD, must publicly declare which articles we wish to open, and then we begin negotiations.

     During the in-between years, either side can "re-open" a few contract articles. These are usually areas where an issue has arisen, like in-lieu time, or items negotiated for only a certain period of time, such as salary and benefits.

     Bargaining is always confidential, with both negotiating teams agreeing not to discuss details with anyone but their "authorities."(The School Board directs the AUSD team and the E-Board directs the AEA team.) The reason for confidentiality is two-fold: One, we don't want the District to know all our ideas, much like in a poker game. Also, it gives the two sides freedom to try out ideas at the table -- which may fall flat as a pancake -- without fear of the court of public opinion.