Friday, July 26, 2013

Session #5 - July 24th, 2013

The fifth bargaining session focused on our economic offer to the district. You can find the specifics here: AHEM Economic Offer 7.24.13.

We built our initial economic offer on what we have heard that you, our members, value and what we understand about our district’s financial situation. Based on those ideas, we created an initial offer that we believe balances our interests and effective use of district resources.

Our members have made it clear that after years of pay freezes and other sacrifices, they want to see improvement in overall compensation. At the same time, they want to be sure the package is affordable in the context of current funding realities.

We focused on a few key ideas to create the proposal. We heard in the last session that the district budgeted for a 2.5% increase in compensation district wide.  They also told us that the school board would like to see unassigned fund balances at about 5% if the overall budget.  Currently, our pay and benefits account for about 62% of district expenditures.

District fund balances have increased over the past few years; for reasons including over estimates of our health insurance cost increases, lower settlements across all district bargaining groups, and efficiencies in other budget areas. If we bring those fund balances back in line with the 5% of the budget idea and consider new funding, we can fund our offer with our proportion of that additional money. That not only reflects school board budget priorities and our interests, it also leaves funds available to other bargaining groups and programs.
The district asked a number of questions to clarify our offer and plans to respond at our next meeting.  They are also likely to bring a counter offer.

The district team brought language to update our contract regarding marriage for same sex couples. With editorial changes regarding terms like husband and wife, we will be able to bring our contract in compliance with new state laws and legal decisions at the federal level.  Our team agrees with the idea, we just need to double check that the proposal catches all the places in our contract with those terms.

They also responded to our language on substitute leave. The main change they offered was in the amount of time covering other classes needed to earn a day of leave. Basically, they aligned the time with the total time students are in instruction in a day at each level. They also proposed a maximum of two days of leave per year that could not be carried over into the following year.

We also agreed to the following meetings (note the change in time for the August 14 meeting):

  • Wednesday, August 14th: 12:30 – 2:30 pm, AHEM Office
  • Wednesday, September 4th: 3:30 – 5:00 pm, AHEM Office
  • Wednesday, September 18th: 4:45 – 6:45 pm, ESC
  • Wednesday, October 2nd: 4:45 – 6:45 pm, AHEM Office
The next meeting on Wednesday, August 14th, 12:30 pm at our office will tell us quite a bit about the tenor of negotiations this year. We hope to see you there!