Monday, September 29, 2003

Day 28

It seems the gag order has been lifted now, because we got word that of the thirty issues brought to the table, twenty-seven have now been settled. Unfortunately, that leaves three to go, and they are big ones:

  • Salary schedule: The district still wants to put the teachers on the state's salary schedule instead of revising the old one that the district has always used, and has been grandfathered in. Going to the state schedule will result in the shots being called in Olympia rather than locally, and also many of the most experienced teachers losing money (see next item). Even if the district goes to the state schedule, the district will still get a little more money because of the way things are set up, which makes me think this is a bit fishy. The district has never explained why they want to go to the state schedule, but they're insisting on it, and not backing down.

  • Salary: The district has at least agreed not to cut anyone's salary — but they won't increase them, either, until the state schedule catches up with where the teacher is. A lot of teachers are not at all happy about the prospect of no salary increase at all for an unknown number of years. At any rate, the union is asking for an eleven percent increase spread out over three years, but has also stated that that is negotiable. The district is insistent that the highest paid teachers essentially take a pay cut.

  • TRI: If those two weren't big enough, this may be the biggest sticking point for teachers. TRI means time, responsibility, and incentive payment, and is essentially what the district raises and pays to the teachers, on top of the state-funded salary money, as a bonus in recognition that this is a more expensive part of the state to live in, and that the teachers put in more work than is truly covered by their base salary. In the past, so long as Marysville teachers can document that they've put in a certain number of hours of extra work beyond their normal school day, they've gotten the TRI. (This is not an uncommon practice, I've seen it at work in several other districts in this area.) For this contract, however, the district is basically saying, "Fine, you want to be paid for ten days of extra work? Then you need to be here for ten extra days." The district wants to put in ten extra days in the calendar for the teachers to work — but the district gets to call the shots on eight of them, and tell the teachers what to do those days, which would very likely mean workshops or other inservices, which defeats the whole purpose of TRI, since teachers in workshops can't be grading papers, planning lessons, or anything else that they need to do for their students. The union, naturally, doesn't want the teachers to be micromanaged in that way.

In addition, the district is insisting on a three year contract, most likely so that even if the board is overturned after the November elections, they will still have some sort of hold over how things are being run. The union, I suspect, is hoping for a shorter contract and an intervening regime change so that the next contract negotiations are nowhere near as fractious.

In other news, Governor Locke phoned the head of the union and asked what the issues were and what he could do to help. Apparently she gave him the number of all of the school board members.

And that's about it. Short shifts the rest of this week (tomorrow through Thursday, at least, as Friday has yet to be decided), and they're mixing the sites up a bit to give everyone some variety in both where they go and who they see. Some other schools are going to picket with us tomorrow, and Wednesday we're going up to the high school.

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