Teachers Association President Invites School Board to Negotiations

Jim Kinnier is the president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor. Christine Sampson photo
Jim Kinnier is the president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor. Christine Sampson photo

By Christine Sampson

Pierson Middle-High School math teacher Jim Kinnier, who is president of the Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH), issued a public invitation to the school board to directly attend TASH’s next contract negotiation session — what he described as the second such invitation, since he said the board did not accept the union’s first invitation to attend a negotiation session. The teachers’ most recent employment contract expired June 30.

“We had a request in to the entire board to be at our next negotiation session,” Mr. Kinnier said. “The answer was ‘no’ … and that we could write a letter explaining why we want the board to be there. I don’t think we ought to have to explain why we would like you there. Rather, I would like to hear why you don’t want to be there.”

However, board vice president January Kerr said there had been a misunderstanding, saying she thought only certain board members had been approached about attending a negotiation session, rather than the whole board.

Contract negotiations have not been publicly discussed. The school board has met in executive session at least three times over the last five months to discuss the TASH contract.

“I’m being very careful, learning from the past, to not bring negotiations out in the public,” Mr. Kinnier said Monday. “The only way this makes sense to me is that there has been some sort of miscommunication or misunderstanding between the board and us, and we would like to eliminate that.”

Board member Tommy John Schiavoni said the board had opted for “traditional avenues of negotiation.”

“We feel we’re at the point where that needs to change,” Mr. Kinnier replied.

On Tuesday, Ms. Kerr said the board “would take it under advisement with counsel to see if we should attend negotiations as a board.”