What happened at bargaining tonight
After 8 months and 23 bargaining sessions the JCEA bargaining team has accepted a tentative deal. To be clear – Where we are today is NOT where we hoped to be when bargaining began pre-COVID, but it is better than where we started. Initially the district offered our membership NO steps, NO levels and NO COLA. 100% of the movement the district made on compensation is a direct result of the collective action our members took to organize and push the district to do more. Our entire contract, including another round of bargaining on compensation begins again this year.
The JCEA bargaining team accepted the District’s final salary offer of ongoing level movement, and a one-time stipend worth 3% of each individual’s annual salary. The stipend will be paid in two lump sums, one in November and one in February. We also agreed to return to the table if the District has $10 million taken away by the state or if the District receives $8 million or more.
We accepted the offer because our survey results indicated that a clear majority (57% of those who responded) of our membership supported acceptance of the last offer of 2.75%. We pushed the District to find more and they did, raising their offer to 3%.
The almost 2000 members who took the survey also indicated they wanted the 2.75% on the table to be given equally to all teachers, not the monetary equivalent to the percentage of a step increase. And by a slim plurality, members indicated they wanted the stipend in two lump sum payments.
The alternative to accepting the offer was to declare impasse, which would have resulted in further delays to get any more money to our members, and with no guarantee that going through mediation and fact-finding would result in a positive outcome. The fact finding process is not binding on the Board of Education.
We have also achieved wins in several language areas and those language changes will go into effect as soon as the agreement is ratified by both parties. These areas include better language on student discipline, teacher rights, and a new grievance process that includes outside arbitration as a final step.
The entirety of the JCEA contract is stronger because of these language changes.
Next step is the ratification vote.
All MEMBERS will receive a link to an up or down vote.
If the ratification vote passes, the agreement will then be ratified by the Board of Education.
If the membership rejects the tentative agreement, everything we bargained, including the language wins on teacher rights and an improved grievance process, will not go into effect. Bargaining will have to start over.
Some members are calling for a “no” vote on ratification. There is confusion that a “no” vote simply sends us into impasse. That is not correct. If a majority of the membership votes no, we will have to start the bargaining process over and re-bargain all the issues.
Your bargaining team recommends a “yes” vote.
We never stop bargaining until we believe we have gotten the best possible settlement. We believe this is the best possible settlement this year. The first offer we received was a total freeze-no steps, no level movement, no COLA, and no stipend. Over multiple bargaining sessions we moved to the offer tonight—ongoing level increase, and the one-time stipend of 3%.
While we would have preferred a better salary settlement, the Board of Education was unwilling to commit one-time monies to the on-going costs of a step increase. No one knows yet what the state’s budget will be next year, but there is currently a $1.6 billion shortfall for the 21-22 budget year. The District was cut by $30 million for this upcoming year. One-time federal money allowed the District to balance the budget for 20-21. The money for the raises we have negotiated are coming out of reserves, which is one time monies.
We appreciate all the member support we have been given, and know that there is more work to do as we move forward. Our entire agreement expires next August. We have a huge task ahead of us and an incredible opportunity to secure more language wins in a new and improved negotiated agreement in the 2020/2021 cycle.
Please join us tomorrow for our September JCEA all member meeting for further discussion. RSVP here for the link to join us tomorrow: https://bit.ly/Sep_Mem_Mtg