The superintendent has been a no-show throughout the 26-month process and her second-in-command, Michael Goar, has been suddenly absent from the last two all-day sessions (August 14 and 15) as the city attorney has taken over the command of the district’s negotiating team. Goar’s abrupt departure has heightened concern over the district leadership team’s lack of involvement in the process. Of the district’s top 12 senior officials, only one or two regularly attend bargaining sessions.
Some observers have cited this apparent indifference as yet another example of a systemic lack of concern among some of those in the ever-changing highest positions as to the direction of the district. Others have pointed to the lack of a clear focus at the very top of the leadership structure. Either way it’s clear that the district is no longer in charge of its own negotiations process.
Historically the district’s leadership team, headed by the superintendent along with inside counsel, handles its own negotiations. That has not been the case this time. For this bargain the district hired outside private counsel, which has now been pushed aside by the city’s chief Labor Relations Director. The superintendent has been present for perhaps two hours total throughout the bargain, except for a single, multi-hour stint in an all-night session that took place last April. The parties have met altogether for close to 400 hours.
(Of the city’s more than 40 unions a small handful have settled — two small unions and three or four very small unions. None of the mid-sized or large unions has settled.)