Friday, September 20, 2013

Session #7 - September 18th, 2013

District General Counsel opened this session with a moment of silence for the loss of AHEM Field Staffer Gary Chrisotoferson. His absence at this first bargaining session since his death was keenly felt.

The district team began by providing updated costing sheets.  These spread sheets contain all the information we use to discuss the costs of our settlement. It includes detailed information on salaries, benefits, and other costs associated with our compensation. The district found an error in how they moved teachers through the career steps and corrected those parts of the spreadsheet.  Because of this change, they updated their economic proposal.

Their updated proposal makes changes in their second year offer. They still offering step and lane movement plus a 1% increase on the career steps only in the first year. For ABE/ECFE, the first year offer is also unchanged at step and lane movement plus a 1.5% increase on the top step.  In the second year, they offer 1% on all cells except the career steps where they would increase by 1.5%.  For ABE/ECFE teachers, all steps would see a 1.5% increase in the second year.

Now, this is not really new money as these changes are funded by decreasing district contributions to health insurance. Health insurance contribution amounts would be listed in the contract as the hard dollar amounts the district is currently contributing, not percentages. So, any increase in premiums in the second year would be borne entirely by our members. The district asserts this offer is what is within the authority given to them by the school board of a 2.5% overall increase.

After caucusing, the AHEM team told the district the health insurance changes they proposed were a non-starter.  We also disagreed with the district's position that this was an improvement over our current contract. Despite the district's financial situation improving, we noted that as the proposal only moves money from district health insurance contributions to the salary schedule, it is actually worse than our last settlement.

We then moved on to our language proposals.  We proposed eliminating all extra duties for traveling teachers, not just those before and after student contact time as we do now.  We moved to add six days per year with substitute relief if needed for special education teachers for due process work. We proposed capping the number of sections an elementary specialist can teach at 42 half hour blocks or 21 hour long blocks.  We concluded with putting forward adding tech specialists at program sites as we do at elementary schools, adding pay for members of the Staff Development Committee at Level C, and changing the name of the Math Club to the more accurate Math Team. 

We concluded by asking for more dates for bargaining, preferably those that fit our every other Wednesday at 4:45 pm pattern.

Our next session will be October 2nd at the AHEM Office, 4:45 - 6:45 pm.