There have been posts on other sites that claim that the TEEA offered the TESD board $600,000 to help with this year’s budget problems. Several posters have represented themselves as teachers — members of the union — and have verified that it is their understanding that TEEA offered $600,000 but that the board rejected the offer. The”word” is that the board refused and requested that the Union reopen the contract.
This is very interesting information and certainly represents in theory an overture from the Union that is worthy of further discussion and understanding. As I posted elsewhere, it would be more helpful if the referenced offer that the board allegedly turned down were posted on the TEEA site. It unfortunately has all the symptoms of one of those “if it sounds too goo to be true…”
I don’t want to ruin the party, so I’ll try to be brief in my theoretical analysis. Because I do not have access to any details, I am going to have to ask some questions and make some assumptions based on the narrative about the TEEA offer:
1.PROPOSAL asserts: Teachers offered to give back 3 days of pay, equating that to $1,200 per teacher. My question: Did they agree to work those three days or did they offer to work fewer days than contracted? This year only? Going forward? Those are very different things and would have different implications in how they are implemented.
2. There was a court decision sometime in the 80s I believe that affected compensation — it’s the reason teachers don’t lose money in a strike. That decision basically affirmed that a teacher is a salaried invdividual — and their pay is based on a work year, not on days worked. If the work year is shortened, they still receive a full salary (which is why strikes have no economic impact on members of the teaching members of the bargaining unit)
3. Absent opening the contract to renegotiate days worked, this “give back” (if enforceable — which I doubt) falls into this school year — so contributes savings this year but does nothing to influence next year’s budget. This is government accounting — all the savings would do is go into the “fund balance” and then that would be put towards next year’s budget — but not as revenue but as an interfund transfer. Unless it was a change in the contract, it would exacerbate the increase in spending next year vs. this year.
This is the complexity of contracts and unions and deals that goes on all the time. After the unintended fiasco from Ms. Ciamacca’s email to teachers, I am proud to hear that the TEEA has attempted to mitigate the difficulties. I would really like to understand the details before I stand up and cheer. But in theory, it is a good move. Unfortunately, as I understand school law (and I have been off the board for 10 years), the reality is that as an entity representing the teachers, TEEA cannot “give back” days or salary that are under contract. It is a wonderful gesture, but without knowing the details, I would have to conclude that it is only a gesture. To bind them, they would have to amend the contract that calls for 190 days this year and 191 next year. (I think — not sure of that specific detail)
Adamantt support for not reopening the contract saddens me. Reopening the contract does not have to throw everything open — it’s about trust and honor. Neither side should say they will not reopen if they truly are interested in solving this problem. Living by the spirit of the law is as important as living by the letter of the law. Both parties could “reopen” for the specific purpose of adjusting compensation for days worked, or for adjusting days worked, or to reduce the annual wage numbers by the value of 3 days. I have suggested elsewhere that they reopen to negotiate a different health care plan that would be less expensive — or in fact offer this $1200 per teacher as an increase in co-pay towards health care benefits. Reopening with an agreement in principle does not have to open everything up.
I did a 6 year contract with TEEA as I finished my time on the board. Carol Aichele and I were the negotiators for the school district. Our solicitor had died in a hunting accident and we were without legal representation for the most part. It was a person-to-person effort. We worked with the TEEA leadership, who also did not bring any PSEA reps into the meetings. We agreed on details for the first 3 years of the contract. The final 3 years were left “open” as to compensation. We agreed on parameters that we would live with, and the contract was approved and settled. After the first 3 years, we looked at our matrix and made the adjustments to increments that we believed served both sides well –we added those three years and the contract was completed. It is about trust.
Thoughts? I’d love to see the language of the offer on the TEEAcher.org website. As has been referenced elsewhere that non-residents (teachers) may be denied a chance to speak at the board meeting, if we knew the background, there would be no danger that the community would be eager to speak about it. Union President Deb Ciamacca knows that I am ready and willing to help. We all are.