The two unions that represent educators and support staff in Kenai Peninsula Borough schools may strike this coming fall, after membership in both unions voted around 3-to-1 in favor of striking, according to a joint press release from the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association.
The unions and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have been mired in negotiations for months. School staff worked the entirety of the 2018–2019 school district under the terms of a contract which expired last year. The move by the unions represents the latest effort to pressure the district into changing its healthcare offerings, which union officials say are too expensive.
“The last thing we want is to disrupt the learning process,” said KPEA President David Bright in the press release. “We will continue to pursue a resolution with the district that meets the needs of educators and avoids a strike. But until the district asks us back to the table and presents our members with an affordable and sustainable healthcare plan we must exercise this right.”
For the district’s part, officials there have said at public meetings in recent months that they felt that their hands had been tied by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposal to make substantial cuts to the state education budget. The governor and the legislature remain locked in disagreements over education funding.