I’m trying to figure out the negotiating strategy of the city administration vis-a-vis the school nurses union. This contract, which is subject to the jurisdiction of the Mayor’s office–not the School Committee–has been held up for some time. According to news reports, the nurses are asking for parity with the teachers’ contract that was signed in March, a principle that they argue was established in past negotiations.

Unlike that teachers’ contract, this one is small stakes for the city. With membership of only 28 nurses, their request would amount to a few tens of thousands of dollars in incremental funding. Look at the contrast with the teachers’ contract, where hundreds of employees and millions of dollars hung in the balance. I could (and did) suggest that there was a disconnect with the teachers’ contract and the amount of money allocated by the Mayor to the school system, and yet she and the rest of the School Committee deemed the raises important enough to agree to them.

Here, what can be the issue? Certainly not financial. This would be a blip in the city’s budget. (Look for comparison at what the Mayor has spent on no-bid contracts to design the senior center.) Perhaps there is some other reason that has strategic importance for the city, but, if so, it has not come through in public statements. (Note that the Mayor did make public statements about the teachers’ dispute during the those contract negotiations, presumably to help the public understand the issues at hand.)

The nurses are going to have a key role in the re-opening of the schools. It would seem like a good idea to get this morale dampening distraction out of the way.

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