On Thursday afternoon, a Press Release from the School District hit email boxes everywhere which essentially detailed that the School District had made a contract offer to the Alameda Education Association (AEA aka teachers union) for their consideration.
Here are the pertinent parts of the Press Release from the School District:
The proposal offers to raise starting teacher salaries to the average of comparable school districts in Alameda County, increase overall teacher salaries by 2% and provide additional financial incentives for teachers participating in a voluntary two-year pilot program of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) aimed at improving student achievement. If this proposal is accepted by AEA, beginning teachers who participate in the pilot would see an estimated total increase of more than 6% in compensation for the next two years and most other teachers who participate in the pilot would see a total increase of more than 3% in compensation for the next two years.
In addition to increasing beginning teachers’ salaries and overall compensation, the proposal includes an annual incentive of $1,000 for each of the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years available to every teacher who participates in a PLC.
Given that at the last School Board meeting several teachers begged for the School District to make a good faith effort to negotiate, I was actually pretty hopeful that, like the calendar, the process of negotiation would be quicker and much less painful this time around given that success of AEA backed candidates in the last election.
However, I should have known that it was too good to be true. Before the digital ink was even dry, the teacher’s union, via the California Teacher’s Association returned its own Press Release which essentially said, “thanks, but no thanks” or “fuck you” however you care to read into it. Here’s the key part of the AEA press release:
There have been no agreements made on any contract articles in the last 10 months of negotiations. Educators are upset with the district’s salary proposal of 2 percent for the current school year and zero percent for the next school year. That would amount to only a 2 percent salary raise in a six-year period.
Teachers declared impasse when the district refused to respond Thursday to a reasonable AEA counter-proposal to spread a raise of 4.5 percent over two years. It would mean 2.5 percent for this school year and 2 percent next year, and reopening salary talks in 2014-15. Teachers also offered to withdraw their proposal that the district increase its contribution to the costs of their health benefits to make the 4.5 percent raise over two years even more manageable for the district.
Did you catch the part about the declaration of impasse? Yeah, this means it appears we are in for another long protracted slog which essentially can mean nothing good for the community. And, the sad thing about it, it appears to be over a 2.5% salary increase — although I’m sure there is more to this larger story.
So, what does impasse mean? It means that an impartial mediator will be assigned and the two parties will enter the fact finding stage. I’ll point out that last year when the District and AEA went through this process, the District claimed that they were unable to pay any increases in salary, the Fact Finding team indeed supported the District’s contention that they were unable to pay due to the instability of finances at the State level. Even though the Governor’s tax proposal has passed so there is a bit more clarity around that issue, there is looming over the school district the parcel tax lawsuit which complicates the whole matter.
I assume this subject will come up during the next School Board meeting, but given the nature of the discussion, we probably won’t get a whole lot more clarity around what this all means and how deep the divide actually goes. Here is a copy of what the District proposed to AEA and a summary.
So, here’s where it’s a bit confusing, the District refers to the 2% raise as being “ongoing” which really just means that the 2% raise is permanent and it’s not a one-time lump sum bonus to teachers. So once their salaries go up that 2% it stays at that new level until a new contract is negotiated and ratified. AEA wanted the raise to be 4.5% and spread it over two years. Now you may be asking, why don’t they just meet somewhere in the middle between 2% and 4.5%, isn’t that negotiation 101? Like, why can’t they do 3.25%? Good question, I don’t know why they can’t meet in the middle. This whole thing is just depressing.