There are just eight days left until the Snoqualmie Valley School District begins the 2013-14 school year. Negotiations have been happening since June, but the SVSD teachers union, SVEA, is still without a new contract. Their current two-year contract expires on August 31st.
This morning, in a SVEA General Membership meeting, union members overwhelming voted to reject the school district’s latest “conceptual” contract agreement.
Union members did not vote on a tentative contract, only a concept agreement. Negotiations ran late the night before and negotiators decided to take a concept agreement to the union instead of spending hours more hammering out formal tentative contract language.
With the rejection, the union is instructing negotiators to go back to the bargaining table, essentially saying even the concept wasn’t good enough.
The new proposed agreement did, though, increase teachers’ annual pay by 1% (up from .5%) for each year of the proposed three-year contract.
A longtime SVSD teacher (who wishes to remain anonymous) said that fewer than 10 union members voted to accept the conceptual contract agreement, adding that there was “considerable dissatisfaction with non-money issues as well, much at the elementary school level.”
Currently only middle and high school class overload numbers are dealt with in contract language and many elementary school classes have seen significant size increase in recent years. One SVSD 2nd grade teacher commented on social media yesterday that his 2013-14 class is slated to be the largest he’s ever instructed and wants class size limits.
Also at issue are new health care laws, which require many teachers to pay more in premiums. For some teachers, the 1% annual salary increase wouldn’t cover the new premium requirements; meaning some could actually make less next year.
According to another SVSD teacher, negotiators head back to the bargaining table tomorrow, August 28, 2013. The union has another general membership meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, 2013, to consider any new tentative contract offer presented by the Snoqualmie Valley School District.
In previous negotiation years, the union agreed that if the contract offer wasn’t acceptable, they could officially strike. This year, no such strike agreement was put in place according to that same teacher. Hence, if no acceptable contract is presented, mediation may possibly be the next step.
SVSD School Board President Scott Hodgins commented, “I am confident we can come to a [contract] resolution as teachers are a priority for the school board.”
The SVSD school year is scheduled to begin Wednesday, September 4, 2013.