Bargaining Update July 21st

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] [mailto:LUnseth@WashingtonEA.org]
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 2:05 PM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 21st

Are Pasco’s teachers ready yet to say, ‘Never mind?’

Another day at the bargaining table with no significant progress to report.

And that speaks volumes: It was the district’s turn Monday to submit a significant bargaining package. But it turned out to be more-of-the-same snail-paced incremental minutia, making it clear Supt. Saundra Hill has little interest in resolving the key issues that are hurting Pasco’s teachers and students. The district’s strategy is apparently based on little more than an empty prayer that sooner or later we’ll give up and go home.

“Today I felt insulted,” one PAE bargaining team member lamented afterward.

PAE’s bargaining team was scheduled to meet with the district at 9 a.m. Monday. The district team asked for a delay until noon to work on their proposal after failing to complete their homework over the weekend. It was 1:30 p.m. before the district appeared at the table.

Then, in an example of just how out-of-touch administrators are with frontline teaching, one of the district’s solutions on Monday was to suggest adding one minute a day of elementary planning time. Yep. One single minute!

“It was an embarrassment that that they would even propose what they did,” another PAE team member noted.

Equally embarrassing were the district’s contortions as it looks for ways to reject up to $1.7 million in I-1351 money, insisting that class size funds are available only if Pasco adds new classrooms. I-1351 specifically allows the money to be spent in other ways, such as hiring additional teachers to help with small groups or high-needs students.

The district appeared to suggest it is backing away from its demand to unilaterally pick Asuris as next year’s health plan for teachers. But given the district’s shaky record for good-faith interpretation of our contract provisions, it was notable that the district’s submission failed to mention Premera as an option. “The district will provide Pasco Association of Educators the option of offering Asuris Northwest Health medical plans to its members for the 2015-16 plan year.” Period, the district noted. No mention of “an option of offering Premera,” or how our “mutual” determination of a plan will be resolved if the district demands Asuris — and PAE members still want Premera.

The district idled away another chunk of time trying to decipher what its own proposals meant. In one example, the district suggested paying $25 a day for six days or less of unused sick leave, up to a maximum of $300. PAE asked how that would work exactly, since 6 times $25 is, ahhh, $150.

PAE continues to advocate for adequate curriculum, supplies and materials; workable class size and caseloads; specific concerns for our bilingual and special-ed teachers, counselors and specialists; professional pay and recognition of work we often do after-hours; reduced testing; fair, professional and consistent administrative practices; and affordable, high-quality health insurance. It’s clear that with more than $30 million uselessly idling away in reserves and more than $14 million in additional new state funding, money is not the issue in Pasco. The only question is how long the district will take to recognize adding a minute here or $25 there is not a serious solution. It’s an insult.

· You can show your support for PAE today! Join us from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday for a Grievance Hearing presentation to the School Board at Booth. Only PAE members can attend. District administrators have denied/missed timelines on a number of PAE grievances: 6th grade transfer, SBAC impacts, lack of curriculum, etc. PAE President Greg Olson and WEA UniServ Rep. Steve Lindholm will present. Members can’t address the board, but we can remind the district we are united and these grievances affect all PAE members. Wear red.

· It’s critical that all PAE members attend our general membership meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at 1328 N. Road 28, in Pasco, at the hall generously offered by our union brothers and sisters in Steamfitters Local 598. We’ll let you know whether a resolution is in sight, and discuss what next steps PAE members want to take, up to and including a possible strike vote if our contract issues remain unresolved. Mark your calendars for this very important meeting. Our next bargaining session is Tuesday at PAE’s office.

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