Letter: Classified Union, School District Contract Negotiation Update

The Public School Employees (PSE) Union bargaining team met with the School District’s bargaining team during the evening of October 30th. The session was overseen by the Public Employees Relation Commission mediator.

First, progress was made on settling four outstanding non-wage issues during the first half of the session.

Second, the remainder of the night was spent on the compensation package. The District presented two counter proposals on the wage issue. Both proposals were another 4-year contract at approximately 1% per year (total 4.3% over 4 years). During prior talks the District stated they would make going from a 3-year contract to a 4-year contract worth the union’s consideration. The District wants teachers and classified workers contracts to expire on different years. To date, the District has failed on their promise to make a 4-year contract worth discussing.

Next , the District said they will keep any pass through money appropriated from the state. This state money is referred to as COLA Plus (Cost of Living). Since the economic recession, the state legislature has not provided a COLA Plus. The union contends the state pass through money, or COLA Plus, is intended for the employees – not the District. This is counterproductive as our teachers, per their contract would receive COLA Plus if appropriated by the state, but not classified employees.

Also at issue is the HCA, or Health Care Carve Out (state money), which amounts to approximately $65 per classified employee per year. This money is taken away from the employee before it is applied to their insurance benefits. The cost to the District is 2.3%; however this is spread out over 4 years and not all employees benefit. Once again – teachers’ HCA is paid by the District and the classified employees are just asking for the same consideration. Further, the District wants to include the HCA in with the total wage package – this inflates the total percentage number and is not apples to apples.

The Union or classified employees countered with two options for the District:

Option One:  3-year plan at 2% per year like the teachers; pay the HCA like the teachers; and allow the state COLA Plus, if appropriated by the state legislature, to pass through to the employee similar to teachers.

Option Two: a 4-year plan (what the District wants) at 2%,2%,3%,5%; same for the HCA and COLA Plus as stated in Option One.

The bottom line is teachers received a 8% increase over 3 years and the District only offered classified workers — your cooks, aids, bus drivers, IT techs, maintenance and grounds keepers – a 4% wage increase over 4 years, at 1% per year. The workers are also asking for parity with teachers on the HCA carve out and COLA Plus.

Another consideration is the teacher’s compensation package was $3.1 million. The classified proposal is only $436,000 – less than one percent of the District’s $56 million budget.

Classified employees are members of the community who are only asking for a livable wage. They are the first to see your children in the morning and the last to see them in the afternoon.

~ PSE Chapter President, Jill Holen
~Steering Committee Co-Chair, Kathy Ryan

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  • Fairness and equality people. That’s all we are asking for. This is the same package the teachers were “lukewarm” about, we as classified would be satisfied!

  • I made a mistake on the 65$ per year for the Health Care Carve Out ( state money)..should have read 65$ per MONTH!!
    thank you.

  • We don’t have enough bus drivers. We can’t attract enough employees with our low wages and benefits. The market has spoken, we need better compensation.

  • Thanks for this clear letter. I work with dedicated people who totally deserve respect from our district.

  • Living Snoqualmie