With Snoqualmie Valley schools scheduled to begin in six short days and no contract in place for its teachers, negotiators for both the Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) and the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association (SVEA) Union are back at the bargaining table today, Thursday, August 29, 2013.
The two sides actually resumed their negotiations yesterday at 2:30PM, but this time with a Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission mediator present at the table; a mediator who is still present at today’s all-day talks.
SVEA has another General Membership meeting scheduled the day before school resumes, September 3rd, to vote on any new contract presented by the district.
According to the SVSD website during Monday’s talks, negotiating teams “reached a verbal agreement on a three year contract, which was presented to teachers on Tuesday morning. The agreement, which would provide an increase in compensation for teachers of $1.7 million over three years, was rejected by the teachers.”
That agreement was overwhelmingly rejected by union members. With SVEA membership close to 300, it was reported that less than 10 members voted to approve the offer presented on August 27th.
That conceptual agreement included a 1% pay raise for each year of the 3-year contract. Non-monetary issues are still a sticking point, though, with elementary school teachers wanting contract language dealing with class size limits, as such language currently exists for secondary education.
Increasing medical premiums for some teachers are also at issue, as new required health care premiums are not matched by the proposed salary increase, leaving some teachers making less than in prior years. Teachers also say they want more time to do non-student contact work.
It’s estimated that 100 Snoqualmie Valley teachers showed up at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, rallying on the front lawn of the District Office and pressing the school board for an acceptable contract. Union members say they want the board to make teachers and class size a priority.
The SVSD school year is set to begin Wednesday, September 4th. SVEA has not voted to strike if a new contract offer is rejected. Union representatives have not commented on a plan of action in the event of a contract rejection on Tuesday.
School Board President, Scott Hodgins commented on August 27th, “I am confident we can come to a [contract] resolution as teachers are a priority for the school board.”
SVEA Union President, Lisa Radmer, commented on an earlier Living Snoqualmie story:
“This district has award-winning schools staffed with very talented, excellent teachers. These teachers simply cannot continue to provide quality, individualized instruction when their class sizes are increasing every year. At the elementary level, there are no limits on how many students can be placed in a single classroom. The more individualized instruction and care given to elementary student’s means greater success in later years. Snoqualmie Valley teachers are standing up and speaking out for the rights of their students to get the best education- each and every day.”
SVSD is “optimistic that a contract agreement will be achieved before the start of school next Wednesday, September 4th.”