Friday, August 16, 2013

Session #6 - August 14th, 2013

The main topic of this session was the district economic counteroffer, so let's start with that. The district proposed the following:
  • Steps and Lanes each year.
  • 1% salary increase only on career steps each year.
  • Improvements to leadership pay and extra service agreements in a few specific areas, not across the board
  • No improvements to coaching pay
  • No change to district contribution to family health insurance (currently, when premium costs rise, the district contribution to family plans is increased by the same dollar amount of increase in the single choice premium)
  • Reduce district contribution to single health insurance from 100% to 90% percent of the Choice Plan (this would still cover the full cost of Elect Essential, but those who stay on Choice would need to pay in 10% of that cost). They propose this change beginning the second year of the contract.
  • No change to 403B contributions
  • Keep Adult Basic Education and Early Childhood Family Education Teachers (ABE/ECFE) on a separate, lower schedule. First year of the contract, maintain steps and lanes and a 1% increase on only the top step. In the second year, steps and lanes are recognized plus 1% increase on the whole schedule, except for the top step which would be increased by 2%
If you'd like a refresher on AHEM's economic offer for comparison, visit AHEM Economic Offer,7-24-2013.  

By the district's costing, we are about $10 million apart on our offers (however, we are most likely some millions apart on how far apart we believe we are as well).  Our next step as a bargaining team is to create a response to their offer. With open bargaining, we consider you a part of the bargaining team as well - if you'd like to share your reactions to the district offer, email us at

After the offer, we took a short break to caucus as a team. We then asked a few specific questions and moved to the rest of the agenda.

AHEM negotiators responded to the district's last offer on the idea of offering time off in exchange for covering colleague's classes as a substitute. We seem closer to agreement on a plan and are now discussing the idea of increasing the pay for those who would rather be paid directly for the time.

We asked many questions about the Step Ahead Online Program. The district offered language that would classify the teachers who teach those classes as "monitors" who would receive a stipend $500 for a class.  We haven't agreed to that and have a deep concern about reclassifying teachers as monitors because the class is online. AHEM negotiators have been waiting for specifics on the duties of these teachers. We addressed this item now instead of continuing to wait because the program, called Step Ahead, was just approved by the Minnesota Department of Education and is being rolled out now: StepAhead Launch News Release.

We also asked for information regarding class size and accumulation of sick leave to complete future offers.

AHEM's language offer to improve leaves rounded out the session. You can see the exact language here: AHEM Language Proposal 8-14-13.  We have heard from many members that adding grandchildren to the list of family members for which you can use leaves is an increasing need.  We also proposed to extend parental leave options to mothers.  Currently, mothers have maternity leave, which is for the health of the mother following childbirth, but not access to parental leave which is for the care of the child.  We would like to correct that inequity.

We are also proposing increasing flexibility around personal days. We propose increasing the number of personal days to four of the twelve sick/personal/emergency leave days (currently, there are three). In addition, we propose eliminating "sub deduct" days.  By reducing the micromanagement of this kind of leave, not only will the district cut the penalties for using time when we need it, it will communicate that they respect us as professionals to make good choices with our time.

The next meeting on Wednesday, September 4th (3:30 - 5:00 pm, AHEM Office) will include our response to the district economic offer and the district response to our open language items.  As always, you are welcome to join us!