On Thursday evening, 1/13/22, the Reynolds Education Association and the Reynolds School Board reached a tentative settlement on a new collective bargaining agreement. Thus ends a two year effort to bring Reynolds educator salaries closer to the average of other districts in the metro 14 and to ensure greater collaboration between educators and the district administration in meeting the needs of the Reynolds learning community.
The bargaining session last Thursday night (December 9) was a big disappointment for your team. We have worked very hard on finding ways to bring our costs down to a range that the district could agree with. In order to do that we offered to keep the amount of money the district puts into the insurance pool the same. We also offered to have our raises start in January instead of being retroactive. This reduced the cost of our offer by $1 million. We packaged this deal, which means everything in it has to be accepted together.
The district countered with 5% starting in March, 5% next year and 3.5% in the third year. To illustrate how out of touch their team is, they proposed to have our monthly insurance benefit of $1330 start in March and not be retroactive to the beginning of the year. We have had an insurance benefit of $1330 a month since 2019!! We have not proposed to increase it, so it seems clear the district team does not even know what our current benefits are.
Your team was unhappy with this offer to say the least. We responded by taking our package off the table. We kept the reduced amount of money in the insurance pool because, unlike the district, we believe the money the district receives should be spent on staff and students, not saved. We then reverted back to our original offer of 7.5%, 5% , 4%.
We also showed the district how their offer will keep us at the bottom of the metro districts. With the district’s offer, teachers at the highest pay scale would be making $10,000 less a year working for Reynolds than they could make working for Gresham. The lawyer for the district stated that we are calculating steps incorrectly, which is not accurate. She also said that we are engaged in regressive bargaining (taking things off the table that have been offered). This is also not true. We are not. In package bargaining, either side is allowed to offer things which can later be withdrawn if the whole package is not agreed to. (The district has used this tactic before as well.) She also said no one else is offering such large raises. This is true - no other district needs to offer such large raises because they already have higher pay scales than Reynolds. If they did offer large raises, then we would be left even farther behind.
The school board member present repeated how the board really wants to pay the teachers well; they just can’t afford it. He expressed concern that if they agreed to our raises the district may have to lay off a teacher, even a single teacher, in year three and he can’t agree to that. We pointed out that at the rate of teachers leaving, there wouldn’t be any one left to lay off.
Next steps: We have offered a date in January for the next bargaining session, and we want that session to be in person. In the meantime, we are asking all of you to contact the school board with your concerns about the bargain. Please mention how you are doing financially and/or emotionally. Mention if you are thinking about leaving or mention people you know who have left. We will need your action and your support to get through this bargain.
Another important “next step” is to take care of yourselves. Please try to relax and get some enjoyment and peace during the winter break. You are all amazing, and your team appreciates all of your support.
Your REA bargaining team
Your REA co-chairs met with the district this week to analyze the ongoing financial understanding between REA and the district in costing our proposals. We have worked with the CFO to make sure we are using the same information. For example we now know the number of teachers being paid out of the general fund. We know the amount of money not being used in the insurance pool. Just to reassure everyone, when we discuss lowering the amount in the pool this will not cause people to have to pay out of pocket. We have money left over every year and would rather use that money to help with pay than to allow the district to keep it.
Unfortunately, we continue to disagree on the way that steps are being calculated. Additionally, we have been told that the school board is very comfortable with the last offer they gave us. We were informed that they think this will use up the excess money that the district has been saving year after year. We disagree with that thinking and the math they’re using to come to that conclusion. We have seen the district over-budget by millions each year but they still can’t see that.
We are also concerned about the district team’s ability to move on financial offers. They talk to the board about the offers but it seems like they can only do that at designated meetings and not during caucus time. We are concerned that the board is not available enough during bargaining.
The REA team will be working to make strategic moves to our financial offer to move this to a settlement. These strategies could include moving money from the insurance pool (again, no one would be harmed), changing the starting date for when COLA raises are activated, looking at other sources of revenue (where has the district historically over-budgeted) etc.
Please be prepared for additional asks from your bargaining team. We are only as strong as we are in solidarity. We may be asking you to take actions to make the board uncomfortable with their offer. If so, we will need you to join us to get this agreement settled.
Thanks again for your support,
Your bargaining team
Reynolds School District Falls Short with Increased Offer that Moves REA from 14th to 13th in the Metro 14 Districts
Thank you to all the REA members who have been showing up for these negotiation meetings. Your support is essential and sends a message of Solidarity to the district. Thank you!
In this past session the district and REA had a brisk and meaningful exchange of proposals. The district and REA were able to collaborate on Article 25 (Reduction in Force), and this article will be tentatively agreed to. The district and REA are close on Article 23 (Fringe Benefits), but still have a couple wrinkles to iron out. The district increased their offer in Article 22 (Compensation), but it only moves us from 14th in the Portland Metro Area to 13th over the three years of the contract. Here are the details.
A#27, Class Size and Case Load Workload: REA and the district are still in agreement on using the word “limits” in place of “guidelines” (as per Senate bill 580) and are in agreement on REA’s proposed language reducing class size limits for K-1 to 22 students. The district continues to agree to a review process for caseload relief. The work on this article is now completed but it is not tentatively agreed to as 27 is still in a package with 26 and 22.
A#26, Student Services, Section C, Social-Emotional and Wellness Support Services: The district and REA have informally agreed on the language for this article for sections A, B, and C. REA see’s this language change as a positive for all. Again, there is no official tentative agreement on 26 as it is packaged with 27 and 22.
A#25, Reduction in Force: There has been a change in the law which impacts this article. The district and REA have been in discussions about how and when to implement ORS 342.934. REA and the district have agreed to negotiate an MOU by June of 2022. Both sides believe this will allow for any changes in the new law to “shake out” and for interpretations and guidelines from ODE to be distributed to districts. This article will be tentatively agreed to.
A#23, Fringe Benefits: The district and REA have been very close to informal agreement on this article. However, in the information request response that the district just shared with REA, there are some ambiguities regarding the insurance pool. Your Bargain Team has determined that the district has been making over-sized payments to the pool which results in dollars not being used effectively. We will be seeking a sidebar to discuss the pool further and may make suggestions regarding future district contributions to put the money towards items like COLA. More to come on Article #23.
A#22, Compensation: RSD and REA met in a sidebar on Tuesday, 11/16/21, to work out costing differentials prior to the 11/18/21 bargain session. The District team and our team had different methods for costing our respective salary proposals. We were able to bridge the gap on many of the issues impacting costing. Unfortunately, there remains some disagreement on costs for steps. We are still nailing down the number of FTE the district should be costing out of the general fund versus grants and other source funds. Overall there was a good deal of progress in bringing the figures into alignment.
As a result, RSD brought forward an increased COLA proposal of: 5% in year one, 4% in year two, and 3% in year three, for a total three-year COLA compensation of 12%. REA is still holding strong at 7.5%, 5%, and 4% for a total of 16.5%. So, we are closer in total compensation, but far away in terms of moving REA members up the Metro 14 salary rankings. This means the district is still far away from being able to effectively retain current staffing and attract new staffing.
The district still agrees to REA’s proposed longevity language calling for a salary adjustment of 1% at 15 years of service, 2% at 20 years of service, and 3% at 25 years of service. The district still agrees to our language calling for a 1.5% hourly rate increase for members who assume the duties of an absent administrator.
The district relented on their position of not increasing the early retirement monthly payment. This monthly payment had been stuck at $600 per month for the last 25 years. The district has agreed to REA’s language calling for an increase to $800.
Once again, we want to remind everyone that articles 22, 26, and 27 are being discussed as a package proposal. No single article can be agreed to without the others also being agreed to.
REA has called for another sidebar tentatively scheduled for November 30th. REA is hopeful that this sidebar will be as solution-focused as the previous one and result in a final push to an agreement.
A tentative next bargain date has been established for Tuesday, 12/7/21, Pearl Harbor Day. REA is calling for the district to make this session an in-person meeting. The district denied this same request for the last session because of, “concern for the safety of staff.” Your Bargaining Team believes that if the district can keep us safe in schools with unvaccinated students, they can also keep us safe in socially distanced auditoriums or multi-purpose spaces, with everyone wearing masks, and all in-person participants showing proof of vaccination. Look for further messaging from your Organizing Team.
Your Bargaining Team: Molly F., Bruce M., Bruce S., Joyce R., and Brian Jay
Bargain Update for 11/2/21 Session:
Your Bargain Team would like to express its appreciation to all the members who have been showing up for these negotiation meetings. Your support is encouraging to the team and sends a message to the district. Thank you!
In this past session the district and REA met for over three hours, the longest session to date. There were multiple exchanges of proposals and significant progress was made on language in articles 26 (Student Services), and 27 (Class Size and Caseload Workload). The district and REA disagree on Article 25 (Reduction in Force), are close on Article 23 (Fringe Benefits), and are still far apart on Article 22 (Compensation). Here is a rundown of where things stand.
A#27, Class Size and Case Load Workload:
REA and the district agreed on using the word “limits” in place of “guidelines” (as per Senate bill 580) for discussing class size and case load numbers for all schools. The district agreed to REA’s proposed language on reducing class size limits for K-1 to 22 students. The district also agreed to a review process for caseload relief to be conducted by the Student Services Committee by the third week of September each year. The work on this article is now largely completed but this is not tentatively agreed to as 27 is in a package with 26 and 22.
A#26, Student Services, Section C, Social-Emotional and Wellness Support Services:
The district and REA have largely agreed on the language for this article for sections A, B, and C. A and B (SPED & ELD) had been agreed to at previous sessions. The significant changes in C are that the district finally agreed to a committee to oversee, review, and propose “best practices for providing emotional and mental health support services to students.” It also includes oversight on staffing needs, structures of services offered, and includes physical health support services as part of its charge. The committee is comprised in the same ways as the Student Services Committee and the ELD Programming Committee. REA see’s this language change as a positive for all. Again, there is no official tentative agreement on 26 as it is packaged with 27 and 22.
A#25, Reduction in Force:
There has been a change in the law which impacts this article. The district and REA have been in discussions about how and when to implement ORS 342.934, which says that cultural or linguistic expertise must be considered along with seniority and licensure when conducting a reduction in force. REA would like this distinction to be a proactive process and not a reactive one. In other words, REA would like for members who meet the criteria of having cultural or linguistic expertise be identified and designated prior to any RIF consideration process. Our suggestion has been to make this determination at point of hire and that it be reviewed annually. The district wants to negotiate an MOU in the event they determine a RIF becomes necessary. Your Bargain Team will stand strong on this issue.
A#23, Fringe Benefits:
The district and REA have been very close to informal agreement on this article. However, in the information request response that the district just shared with REA, there are some ambiguities regarding the insurance pool. Your Bargain Team wants to take its time in sorting this out and has added this topic as an agenda item for a sidebar in the next week. We wo not wish to fully agree to any of the details around insurance or the pool until these ambiguities are cleared.
RSD and REA met in a sidebar on Thursday, 10/28/21, to work out costing differentials prior to the 11/2/21 bargain session. The District team and our team had different methods for costing our respective salary proposals. Originally, our team estimated the cost as the increase of Year 1 Extra Cost + Year 2 Extra Cost + Year 3 Extra Cost = Total Cost. This presumes that the General Fund also grows each year.
The District took another approach with its costing method, a reasonable and common one, and that is “layer-caking”:
Year 1 Total Cost = Year 1 Extra Cost
Year 2 Total Cost = Year 1 Extra Cost + Year 2 Extra Cost
Year 3 Total Cost = Year 1 Extra Cost + Year 2 Extra Cost + Year 3 Extra Cost
Total Cost of Proposal = Year 1 Total Cost + Year 2 Total Cost + Year 3 Total Cost
We didn’t spot that difference in costing methods and so we weren’t making apples-to-apples comparisons. Their “layer-caking” estimate put their proposal in the $13-15 million range. Our initial method of Y1 + Y2 + Y3 led to an $11 million estimate for our proposal, which we commented on during a REA member caucus. However, the “layer-caking” approach results in our proposal costing a total of $17 million. We’re sticking with the “layer-caking” approach from this point forward but wanted to explain why our initial $11 million costing jumped to $17 million.
We see our $17 million cost as well within the District’s financial ability—it would not result in them needing to make any cuts to anything--and is close to the $13-15 million the District already put on the table. We pointed out that their 3%, 3%, 3% proposal would cost them far less than $13-15 million, and those points are involved in the District reassessing their costing methodology in many areas. However, the District team has shown that $13-15 million is already within its financial comfort zone. The District can easily meet our proposal of $17 million.
In the actual bargain session, the district premised their counter with a statement that they were still analyzing our methodology and wanted to take a harder look at the numbers. Therefore, the district is currently unwilling to increase their offer of 3%, 3%, and 3% over three years. REA is holding strong on 7.5%, 5%, and 4%.
The district did agree to REA’s proposed longevity language calling for a salary adjustment of 1% at 15 years of service, 2% at 20 years of service, and 3% at 25 years of service. The district also agreed to our language calling for a 1.5% hourly rate increase for members who assume the duties of an absent administrator. This did come with eliminating the previous language about Teacher In Charge annual stipends.
The district is holding fast to their position of not increasing the early retirement monthly payment. This monthly payment has been stuck at $600 per month for the last 25 years. REA had originally asked for an increase to $1,000. REA subsequently attempted to show the district how to bargain by going to $800 as a compromise. The district says they are not interested. REA will hold strong on $800 as per our members request.
Once again, we want to remind everyone that articles 22, 26, and 27 are being discussed as a package proposal. No single article can be agreed to without the others also being agreed to.
A sidebar will be scheduled for week of November 8th. Time and date to be announced. REA is hopeful that this sidebar will be solution-focused and result in a more collaborative approach to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement
A tentative next bargain date has been established for Thursday, November 18th. REA has asked the district to make this session an in-person meeting with appropriate social-distancing. We have also asked that there be virtual options for anyone who cannot or chooses to not attend. The details for this meeting are yet to be determined. Look for messaging from your Organizing Team.
Your Bargaining Team: Molly F., Bruce M., Bruce S., Joyce R., and Brian Jay
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
Tuesday evening the Reynolds School District’s Bargaining Team once again disrespected educators and threatened to further harm students. Instead of making an offer in Article 22 (compensation) to move the needle for Reynolds out of the metro cellar (14th out of 14 districts), RSD low-balled educators with a three year offer of 3%, 2.5% and 2%. RSD’s offer would guarantee that RSD educators remain at the bottom of the barrel in the greater Portland area for the foreseeable future. Worse, the offer does not even keep up with inflation. Ultimately, RSD’s offer hurts Reynolds’ students as it makes retaining highly qualified staff more difficult. The end result is greater staff turn-over, creating a loss of institutional knowledge and more inconsistency for students, all of which goes against the district’s own Strategic Plan.
This year alone the district lost over 100 educators, many of whom took jobs with neighboring districts where they could make $5-10,000 more per year. This brain drain has been going on for many years but went from a trickle to a torrent this year. Veteran educators who dedicated tens of years to Reynolds students left to go to Portland, Parkrose, Centennial, David Douglas, and Beaverton. Young BIPOC educators have declined offers and gone elsewhere. Building hiring committees are having to keep interviewing as candidates take jobs in other districts, often finding no candidates to interview, thus leaving many positions unfilled across the district. There is a national teacher shortage and substitute teachers are scarce as hen’s teeth. Offering last place salaries will doom our students to last place support.
Your REA bargaining team is holding firm to our last offer of 7.5%, 5.5%, and 4% over three years. This offer would move Reynolds salaries to the middle of the metro 14 by the third year, assuming other districts keep pace with inflation. These are not outrageous numbers and the district has the money. By holding onto the money, the district believes it is being financially prudent. What is happening is that RSD is continuing to gut the viability and quality of our educator staff. This hurts our kids.
In Article 23 (Benefits) the district and REA have found some common ground, but that ground was given by REA in order to facilitate gains in Article 22. Without significant movement by RSD in Article 22, the agreements in 23 mean little. REA is submitting 22 & 23 as a package deal.
In Article 26 (Student Services) RSD and REA have found agreement for language regarding Special Education (26-A) and English Language Learners (26-B). The district is refusing language proposed by REA for 26-C (Social Workers, Counselors, and MTSS staff). REA is simply asking for a work group to be formed comprised of RSD administrators and REA members to collaborate on issues important to the work of these specialized staff. RSD says, “No.” RSD says, “It is covered in the Strategic Plan.” REA argues that strategic plans come and go with the administrators and board members who initiate them. RSD’s Bargaining Chair could not recollect the number of different strategic plans seen in his tenure. REA believes the work of these special groups needs lasting representation and accountability in the contract.
RSD and REA have agreed to hold a side bar to discuss elements of Article 27 (Class Size & Work Load) and Article 25 (Reduction In Force). A side bar is a closed meeting between a few members of each side’s bargaining team. It is used to share information and clear obstacles or misunderstandings that prevent agreement in open negotiations. Both articles are impacted by new Oregon laws. Article 27 is impacted by Senate Bill 280 which takes effect 1/1/22. Article 25 is impacted by House Bill 2001 which takes effect now. Hopefully the side bar will get the two teams on the same page and lead to agreements in open sessions.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday, 10/5/21, from 5:00PM to 8:00PM. Please look for the zoom link coming to your calendar soon. In the meantime, please look for ways to actively support a fair and equitable bargain for the welfare and future of our students and staff.
Your REA Bargain Team:
Molly Frye, Brian Jay, Bruce Marsh, and Joyce Rosenau
REA & RSD Reach Tentative Agreement on MOU for Return to In-Person Learning for the 2021/2022 School Year
Final Tentative Agreement 2021-2022 In-Person Learning MOU 8/29/21
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