Colleagues and Fellow REA Members,
First, a big thank you to all of you who came to the bargaining meeting. We had almost twice as many people as last time. Your team appreciates your support.
The session started with REA presenting our proposal to the district. We have packaged the remaining articles which means we don’t want to sign off on one without the others.
Our proposal started with a presentation of REA’s costing. We showed that we had included the cost of steps in our calculations although in a different way than the district did. We showed that teachers at the top of the pay scale and seniority are leaving at a higher rate than the newer teachers being hired. We showed that by accepting the district’s offer of 3% each year leaves as at 14 out of 14 for the Metro 14. Then we went through Article 22. We have kept our wage increase at 7.5%, 5% and 4%. We have asked for early retirement to be increased to $800 a month instead of the current $600. We did not discuss Article 23 because nothing has changed since our last proposal.
Then we moved on to Article 25- Reduction in Force. We wanted to just add the words “cultural or linguistic expertise” and cite the law. We also wanted to add details about how and when the label would be added to the job. Since the law has just been enacted we wanted to leave room for different interpretations as time progressed.
In Article 26, we have agreed on A, B and are still working on C. The district offered creating a wellness committee at each building. We thought this missed the mark so we went back to our original language. We want a district wide committee to ensure a robust and integrated program which is available to all schools.
The last article, 27, involves class size and caseload limits. This is necessary because of the changes in the new state law, SB 580: “Employment relations” includes class size and caseload limits in schools that qualify for assistance under Title I of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. In response to this new state law, we introduced limits for classes and caseloads.
We then had caucus time so each team could reflect on the information REA presented. Your team was surprised by the district’s response when the bargaining resumed. The district said that they had concerns about the idea of a package and refused to speak about any of the articles. They accused REA of not making any movement. They said we were involved in regressive bargaining. Regressive bargaining occurs when a party makes a subsequent proposal which is less advantageous to the other party than the preceding proposal. The school board member says the board knows we are the lowest paid teachers in the region but believes that the offer of 3% is as high as they can go. Your team was very dismayed by this lack of conversation with the district. We tried to engage more but no one on their team was willing to talk. The district’s lawyer then decided that the meeting was over for all of us and left and expected us all to leave also. We were willing to stay and try and work through this.
Your REA team is concerned by this unexpected twist in the bargain. We have always welcomed dialogue and want to have deep conversations with the district but that is not happening. We are planning on another side bar and hope that dialogue can be reestablished.
Keep an eye out for more information over the next few days in your home emails, including actions for next week's School Board meeting on Wednesday, October 27.
Thanks for your support!!
Joyce, Bruce, Brian, Molly and Bruce
Greetings from your bargaining team,
First, we would like to thank all those who came out to watch the October 5 bargaining session as well as those who wrote letters to the School Board last week. Your team benefits from your presence and support.
Here is a short recap of events:
The district opened the meeting with a short financial presentation. The new RSD Chief Financial Officer, Anthony Lebron, showed us the program that the district is using to calculate expenses from their proposal, which included the district’s latest offering of a 9% raise over 3 years.
The district then presented on Article 26 C: Support Services. Their counter to REA’s proposal is to create wellness teams in each building. This proposal is not what was envisioned by your bargaining team. In Article 26 A and B, we have district-wide committees to help with continuity throughout the district as opposed to a piecemeal approach that causes confusion for parents, students, and staff alike. We want the same for REA social workers and counselors. A wellness committee in each building gives these educators nothing more than additional work.
Following their presentation on Article 26 A, the district introduced their latest offer on Article 27: Class Size. The district believes that our current contract language is good enough to meet the state’s newly created legislation. REA disagrees. We want the district to include options for programs, while the current article only addresses “guidelines” for general education classes.
Before heading off to caucus, the discussion turned to Article 22: Pay. Confusion in this article currently occurs because REA and RSD do not have the same process or final numbers for estimating the costs of various COLA increases. To manage this discrepancy over costing, we are having a sidebar (private small group meeting) to make sure we are all using the same numbers and math. That meeting is happening next week.
We still have Articles 23: Benefits and Article 25: Reduction in Force open, but held no discussions around them at this meeting.
RSD School Board member, Cayle Tern, joined the panel for the last part of the session after returning from caucuses. We are hopeful to get two more sessions scheduled, one for later in October and one in early November. The Bargaining Team is also planning on coming to your building to meet with members directly in the next few weeks. We are looking forward to hearing from as many members as possible as we continue to move forward.
Stay strong and thanks again for your support.
Your bargaining team,
Joyce Rosenau, Bruce Marsh, Brian Jay, Molly Frye and Bruce Scherer
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