We met today from 1 to 4 at ESF to continue work on the contract. Events were relatively peaceful until the end.
First: money. Their offer was ridiculously low, which we knew was coming. They offered a Three Fourths of a percent raise. They knew we wouldn’t take it. No surprises from anyone. Before the offer they did an overview of district finances. Yes, the state funding is pitiful. The BFT countered with a presentation of saved money from last year, which we believe can be used for salary. We showed them where we believe they saved about $600K in their raises from last year, by the workforce being slightly different than their initial projections. Then we showed them how we believe they saved up to $6 million from their year over year workforce being less expensive than the year before. We did this using state numbers that are reported by the district. Our message was well received, compared to most year. We believe we can work with the new Assistant Superintendent of Finances, as she pledged to look into our numbers as she is closing out last year’s numbers. She just came to us four months ago and seemed to get what we were getting and will look into it. This is far better than previous years when the district denies ever saving money over their budget. So, the good news is there is hope they will find more. The bad news is we will not be settling anytime soon as the process of closing the books on last year takes most of August.
Second: language. We had to revisit some language to see where we were. We are making progress on securing comp time utilization for non-student time, in addition to the two student days we already have. We had some other topics, but then got to two topics at the end which were strangely contentious. They agreed they had a workable plan for bereavement leave, but then said they could not offer it because they could not give it to the other union as well. (Local 1010 represents support personnel.) This is unacceptable. If we have asked for something and they cannot give it, the other union can’t be their excuse.
But then the wheels came off. Our last topic was our proposal to try to extend leave rights to annual contract teachers. We have some who go on maternity leave and can’t get their jobs back, or leaves extended for any medical complications or personal child rearing leave. At this point Dr. Kindt interrupted and showed a disappointing misunderstanding of the entire issue. She implied that legally we could not extend PSC to AC teachers, which is true, but it was not the point. The most troubling point was when she implied that AC teachers didn’t even have rights we already have for them in the contract, and that we could not negotiate any more rights for them. It got testy and the session ended with Dan explaining we would defend the rights we currently had in the contract. Well, maybe Dan didn’t say it diplomatically and it ended a bit ugly.
In summary: We are going to have to watch carefully to make sure we don’t lose the rights we have. We’ll be back to talk money in late August at the earliest. Look for the union money presentation on the website by Friday afternoon. Dan will put up the explanation of where the money could be sitting and waiting.