Thursday, March 17, 2011

Contract Negotiations

We are in the process of negotiating the contract for next year, and have an opportunity here to discuss our priorities.  We have already approved the calendar that specifies 2 to 6 furlough days on given dates, so that is off the table.  What remaining concerns do we want to see addressed, and in what order?  Your thoughts?


  1. Thanks for providing this important resource to let our members discuss the issues. I will make sure I check back often. People can also check out our Facebook page as a place to make comments about issues as well.

    Andy Brennan

  2. 1. Why doesn't our contract include retaining librarians? They facilitate efficient access to information.

    2. Why doesn't our contract include specific wording linking teacher and student and parent interests--how about an agreement on the number of school days taught per year for a starter?

    3. How about listing the reasons for student and teacher partnership--protecting the viablility of a functional democracy, both local and global, as a foundation?

  3. James -- interesting! What would those proposals look like? I'm all for implementing big ideas, I just don't have any myself. I find that my attention is much more on the mundane -- that is, mitigating for the lost days. I am feeling overwhelmed by the demand of the job over against continually decreasing financial security.

    I totally get the payback from the students and the inherent satisfaction of the work itself, but I am in survival mode, and the amount of work required is not equal to any reasonable degree of financial comfort. So my priorities are much more basic -- let's mitigate the loss of contract days via fewer extra duty hours and/or fewer required meetings. Something's gotta give in terms of the job requirements in the face of continuing losses of income.


  4. Andy, thank you for taking the time to review this thread. I urge people reading to participate and make your voices heard.

    James, I agree that we need to clearly define the common interests of teachers and students.

    Some other matters we discussed in our meeting this past week:

    1. We would like an independent audit of the district's budget. Some suggested that we are entitled to this from CTA.
    2. What is the cost of the testing we do as a district that is not state-mandated? Practice exams and formative assessments are required, but do we have studies showing their effectiveness in boosting exam results?
    3. We know that the 2012-13 school year is likely to bring layoffs. Will we once again be asked to mitigate those losses through pay cuts? In order to make a more informed choice should it become necessary in the future, and to fully understand the implications of the vote we just had, we need more information. Exactly how many jobs were projected to be lost without the district savings of the furlough days? How many temps were in our district this year, 2010-11, and what is the sum of their combined salaries?
    Had we known how many jobs were on the chopping block prior to the vote, we would now be in a better position to assess whether our pay cut truly protected probationary and tenured positions, or whether there were enough temporary employees in the district to match the deficit claimed by the district. We might also reassess the lost librarian positions. (That question is not meant to minimize the value of our temporary employees, but it is an essential one in weighing past and future choices.) We need answers to these questions far in advance of the next vote.

    4. Several suggested that the SRTA negotiating team meet with our individual schools on a regular (monthly?) basis and apprise us of pending requests by the district, so that we don't feel blindsided again by a deal that many felt was out of the blue.

  5. Also, we discussed the fact that the calendar and salary issues should not be voted on separately from the rest of the contract, especially when such a vote precedes the kinds of information Simone listed above and comes with a rushed "accept it unquestioningly now or expect layoffs" kind of ultimatum.

    Now that we have accepted the calendar, it seems we have little bargaining power with respect to the rest of the contract. Voting on it prematurely as a separate issue is not in our best interest.


  6. Someone mentioned today the idea that we should have better consideration from the district for extended leave time in cases where a teacher or family member is seriously injured or ill. We have the disability insurance option, but it is very limited, and the union sick bank doesn't seem to be a very effective backup.

  7. To add to my last comment, Dot says that she and Andy were talking about the possibility of changing the name of our sick days to PN days so that we could use them more freely. Technically, the sick bank as currently labeled is only for a member who is ill or injured and does not cover situations involving other family members for which a member may need to take time off. I think this is a great idea.