1 WEST CHICAGO HIGH SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF ASSOCIATION (WCHSSSA) IMPASSE FINAL OFFER MARCH 7, 2013
2 WCHSSSA - SUPPORT STAFF ASSOCIATION HISTORY AND FACTS The West Chicago Community High School Support Staff Association (WCHSSSA) represents custodians, maintenance workers, administrative assistants, program assistants, clerks and technology staff. We have been in existence since The reason we organized twelve years ago was three-fold: to support quality education, to have a voice in our working conditions, and due to shortening employees work calendars without pay. Support staff was also paid far lower than other schools in the area before that time. Many of our staff live in the community and are taxpayers as well; they went to school at CHS and their children attend school here. Our history at the bargaining table has been one of cooperation on both sides. We have always been able to sit across the table to resolve issues. Our experience on this occasion has been one whereas the Board of Education s approach has appeared to be unilateral and uncooperative. Their position has been steadfast to cap salaries and shift larger amounts of insurance premium costs to the employees, then going so far as to threaten outsourcing our custodial and maintenance staff. In spite of this, we have been negotiating in good faith with the Board of Education to bargain a fair contract for all. HISTORY The current support staff association contract expired on June 30, Negotiations have not progressed as desired. In November, the SSA requested the assistance of a federal mediator to facilitate a contract settlement, which has not occurred. In our last contract talks, the Board of Education (BOE) eventually agreed with the SSA, that in order to get an agreement on an increase in the insurance premiums, they would also have to provide an increase in salary. This decision was made during better economic times which led to modest raises over the course of the last four years. Despite this attempt to help defray the additional expense borne by the employees, many staff actually experienced a net loss in take-home pay or had no net increase in pay. This necessitated an insurance offset provision to allow members a small increase in their net pay. Some of the present BOE members were a part of those agreements this includes a present Administrator. The BOE has expressed an unwillingness to share the cost of health insurance premium increases. Also, the BOE is not willing to provide sufficient salary increases for employees to cover the proposed increases in health insurance premiums. The BOE is now demanding inferior raises for its most experienced/long-term employees. Many of these employees have worked in the district for more than 25 years. Staff and teachers have helped the district s financial situation significantly in past contracts by increasing the health insurance premium splits from 90/10% (BOE/employee) to the current splits of 75/25%. Administration asked for ideas regarding savings for the district. Many such ideas have been suggested by Support Staff employees resulting in savings for the district and taxpayers, such as energy savings. Almost 100% of their suggestions eventually were adopted by the district. This proves that, in every way, Support Staff are invested members who take ownership for the success of both students and the community s welfare. FACTS 1. The statewide living wage, defined as sufficient earnings to cover the basic needs, is $28,000 annually, or $14.00/hr. According to the present salary schedule, program assistants attain this wage after eight years of service. 2. Most of Support Staff members have to work until Medicare age of 65, because they are the only district 94 group not provided Health Insurance benefits in retirement. Career wages that tend not to keep up with inflation do not provide these employees with funds to afford paying for their own insurance if they contemplate earlier retirement. The BOE fails to note that the longer employees have to work, the more costly their salaries tend to be. Some employees could retire if earlier health insurance was provided. 3. The insurance committee recommended an HSA, Health Savings Account, be added to the insurance plan options. Only seven teachers opted for the HSA, which requires an annual $5,000 family deductible. Not one administrator chose the HSA option. The BOE has offered a one-time $1,000 contribution to members who opt for the HSA. 4. Approximately one-third (21 of 77) of SSA members do not take insurance from District 94 which results in long-term savings for the District. 5. The average member salary is $33,000. Of the 77 members, 46 fall at or below that average salary. The national poverty level is $23,000 for a family of four. At District 94, 26 of 77 Support Staff are at or below poverty levels. Some of our members qualify/receive public aid and food stamps.
3 6. The BOE has fluctuated between an offer of an insurance flat rate, and harsher percentage premium splits, that would in either case further push most support staff off the health insurance plans due to unaffordability. The flat rate and/or higher premium splits on the health insurance offer would be an indication of how the BOE is not willing to share increases in the cost of premiums. 7. The BOE would like to cap salaries of members with those whose salaries equate to seventeen years of service. Many members easily have given the district more than 25 years of service. 8. Impact on students a. The school is becoming a revolving door for support staff members and teachers, due to the inequities the BOE s stance has created. Decreases in student programs, books, cuts in security personnel compromising safety, and most recently threats of outsourcing the custodial and maintenance staff have further eroded the personalization of the student/staff relationship. b. The end result has been increased failure rates of students --especially minority students -- and ever increasing student drop-out rates, that force students into GED programs (at best), and the constant addition of teacher overload classes to accommodate/address student failures. c. The physical building has increased in size in the past ten or so years, while the custodial/maintenance staff has not. The number of students has also increased during that period of time. In spite of the many challenges custodians and maintenance staff face they have been able to keep pace with the demands of students and staff alike due to their remarkable dedication. In addition the building is used by numerous outside entities such as the Park District, travel clubs, and other activities groups. The maintenance of an aging/overused building requires the constant upkeep by the custodial/maintenance staff, a job that often requires 6-7 days of duty creating some of the need for overtime, an additional cost to the district. d. The student body has increased by 50% over the last 20 years, while the size of the support staff has remained the same. 9. The support staff salary and benefit costs have remained fairly constant allowing predictability for the BOE over the 12- year life of the association. Staff has worked with the BOE in cost reduction on energy, insurance premiums, and taking on additional administrative duties. For example, the base pay increase for Administrative Assistants Column A, has increased a total of $1.62 that equates $0.162 cents per year increase on the base for that category employee from the inception of the SSA in 2001 to Budget restrictions appear to apply to teachers and support staff exclusively. This BOE touts the need for frugality when it comes to the lowest paid groups. However, restrictions are not considered necessary when doling out perks. The BOE continues to provide increases for Administrators, such as salary perks (some as much as 10% per year), car allowances for a one-school building district, stipends, annuities to offset smaller salary increases, etc. These far exceed what should be allowed in austere times. Some Administrators receive stipends to do duties that are part of their assigned administrative duties. The lowest paid employees in the district are being asked to sacrifice time and time again. Support Staff have been denied benefits such as Tuition Reimbursement to continue their education although the District gains immediate benefit from the employee improving his or her skills and knowledge. 11. Employment costs have increased due to disregard of step placement for new employees. In many cases, new staff earn more the first day on the job than others who have done the same job for many years. The SSA has tried to control costs by setting a limit of how high on the step schedule a new hire should be placed. The BOE/Administration has refused to agree to lower new-hire rates which eventually have caused the increased expense in the total salary package. Their argument is that higher starting salary offers attract better candidates. The real issue is that it attracts short term employees such as certified teachers who come and go after a year or two. The district is in constant turnover mode; with training of new employees taking precedent. Students fail to develop relationships with staff that would encourage, motivate and lead to their educational success. On the other hand, as the more veteran Support Staff has to work with so many new employees, it becomes an additional task not only to take on additional work while the new people gain experience, but sometimes also to train/assist their own supervisors about accomplishment of their responsibilities. 12. The SSA has proposed language that would allow the BOE/Administration to have a fair process for evaluating employees, but has found resistance from the BOE/Administration to develop the procedure. In the past, employees have been written up, and in some cases dismissed, due to the various interpretations of the current evaluation process. Some supervisors are unfamiliar with the contract and the process; therefore, the employee is placed at a disadvantage by not being trained or retrained in order to mitigate performance deficiencies. Supervisors often do not follow up with employees to ensure that the deficiencies have been corrected. The SSA proposal would address and define a more formal process that holds all parties accountable, including employees and their supervisors.
4 The SSA agrees with the BOE/Administration that we need to be fiscally responsible while providing educational opportunities for our students. We applaud our members for taking on additional duties every time it has been requested. We now ask that the BOE/Administration act responsibly in protecting the students, programs, and morale of those who serve as a part of the team in creating an environment in which we can all be successful. SUMMARY OF UNRESOLVED ISSUES AND PROPOSALS Below is a summary of the unresolved negotiations issues, followed by copies of the actual proposals, which we are offering, along with all other items previously tentatively agreed to by the parties, as a final settlement package. If any member of the community wants additional information or has specific questions about these negotiations, we invite you to visit our Facebook page West Chicago High School Support Staff Association. ISSUE: SALARY We believe that maintaining fair and competitive salary rates is a crucial part of attracting and retaining quality employees. Although the support staff members are among the hardest working employees in the district, we are also the lowest-paid employee group. All that our members are asking for is to be treated with dignity and to receive a living wage. In an attempt to address salary concerns raised by the school board, we have made considerable movement in this area, even giving up a hard-won step-schedule that had previously guaranteed our members 4% raises per year a move which will generate long-term savings for the district. We believe that our current salary proposals are fair for employees, the district, and the community. A. Salary Increases In addition to starting rates for each job category, we are in close agreement with the school board over across-the-board salary increases in each of the three years of the new contract: 3.25%, 3.00%, and 2.75%. This amounts to approximately $240,000 in new money being applied to salaries over three years. However, the school board has insisted that long-term employees should not receive these raises, while the WCHSSSA wants to see them distributed equally among all of our members. Not only do we feel that it is important to treat all employees fairly and equally, but we also think that it is particularly unfair to punish those who have devoted their careers to this school, the students, and community, by withholding raises that are given to new, less-experienced employees. B. Placement of New-Hires New-hires should be compensated in accordance with their work experience, but that compensation should be limited to a reasonable range (as stated below in the written proposal for 7.2 B). In no case should a newly-hired employee be paid more than the lowest-paid employee with five or more years in the same classification. We believe that unlimited compensation for new hires is bad for the district because it artificially and unnecessarily increases salary costs. Compensating new employees at rates close to or above those of current employees also does significant damage to employee morale. Placing reasonable limits on new-hire compensation will help to control salary costs and create an atmosphere in which employees feel valued for their dedication and service to the district.
5 C. Raises Due to Transfers and Promotions Employees being promoted or permanently transferred to a higher-paying job category will receive raises based on the difference between the hourly starting rate of the old category and the hourly starting rate of the new category, using the agreed starting rates for each job category. This proposal will help to keep salary costs predictable and under control, which is necessary because of a history wherein salary increases provided by District 94 administrators to different employees being promoted have varied tremendously. Failing to correct this will unnecessarily increase the district s salary costs, and continue to harm employee morale because it is recognized as favoritism. D. Dean Specialist Pay Rate The Association will agree to maintain separate pay rates for current and future employees working in the Dean Specialist job category, per previous memoranda of understanding agreed to by the parties. After months of discussions, the school board remains unwilling to compensate future employees with what is agreed to be an appropriate wage rate for current employees. We finally dropped our proposal to correct this inequity for future employees in an effort to move our negotiations forward. Our proposal would have removed the need to renew the memorandum of understanding with each contract. E. Longevity Bonus Employees hired before the term of the new contract (before July 1, 2012) will be eligible for an annual longevity bonus after completing 20 years of service to District 94. This bonus will be an amount equal to 1% of the employee s annual salary, and will be spread evenly over 24 paychecks. The intent of the longevity bonus is to provide an alternative to the significantly richer retirement benefits which the district makes available to administrators and teachers, including 6% salary increases in the final years used to determine pension annuities and post-retirement health insurance reimbursements. ISSUE: RETIREMENT STIPEND Like most other school boards, the District 94 board recognizes the long-term financial value in giving many of its most senior, and often higher-paid, teachers and administrators an incentive to retire from the district earlier than they might have anticipated. While representing an initial cost in the beginning, these retirement incentives typically result in long-term savings for school districts. Unfortunately, the school board does not see fit to use the same money-saving mechanism to reward the service of its most dedicated support staff employees, and has proposed deleting the modest post-retirement stipend which has been a feature of the support staff contract for a number of years. The board proposes replacing this with a one-time stipend that would only be offered to employees who are able to retire during one of the three years of the contract, and not to any other employees retiring in the future. We are proposing to keep the existing retirement stipend in place without any changes. This benefit is a modest, one-time payment included in a retiring-employee s final paycheck; $3, for 17 up to 20 years of service to District 94, and $4, for 20 or more years of service.
6 The traditional support staff retirement stipend is extremely modest in comparison with retirement benefits offered to administrators and teachers, but it still provides employees with an incentive to retire earlier than they might have otherwise, and, most importantly, provides recognition of the years of service they devote to the school and its students. ISSUE: HEALTH INSURANCE We believe that, like everyone else, District 94 support staff employees deserve to have adequate and affordable health insurance coverage. With many WCHSSSA members earning lower wages relative to their insurance contributions, we pay a higher portion of our wages than teachers and administrators do for the same health insurance coverage. Because of this, maintaining affordable health insurance takes on an even greater importance for our members. A. Cost-Savings Incentive Employees moving from a plan option that is more expensive for the district to one that is less expensive will receive one of the following one-time incentives: Moving to PPO 2: $500 Moving to PPO 3: $1000 Moving to either HMO: $250 Creating a one-time incentive over the life of the contract will encourage employees who now opt for more expensive insurance plans to move to a less costly plan, thus providing additional cost-savings to the district. B. Monthly Premium Shares In order to reduce health insurance costs for the district, employees choosing to participate in PPO 1 will assume a greater share of the premium costs over the life of the contract; paying 25% of the premiums in the first year, 28% in the second year, and 30% in the third year of the contract. Employees may choose to continue participating in the other plans with an 85%/15% premium split. We feel that it is appropriate for employees participating in the most expensive plan to be responsible for paying a larger share of the monthly premium. The proposed premium-sharing percentages would help to reduce costs for the district while still remaining within national and local norms, which allows District 94 to remain competitive with its peers when seeking to attract and retain quality employees. ISSUE: EVALUATIONS We believe that evaluations should be fair for all support staff employees across the board. Different departments utilize a different evaluation measurement, thus creating inconsistencies in discipline and expectations of employee performance. Inconsistencies have resulted in disciplinary action and termination of employees. We are proposing a more specific and consistent evaluation process to be utilized across the board. It provides the employee with feedback from supervisors and the opportunity to improve job performance.
7 We feel that all employees should have a fair and equitable evaluation process. This would create an environment that nurtures the employee/supervisor relationship and provides the opportunity for employee feedback, professional growth, and improved job performance. WCHSSSA Comprehensive Proposal Final March 7, 2013 (In the event this proposal is rejected by Admin/BOE, the Association reserves the right to revert back to any previous proposal). NOTE: We are making these proposals as our final settlement offer along with all other items tentatively agreed to by the parties. 7.2 SALARY A. Replace current salary schedule with across-the-board increases for all bargaining unit members. Beginning in the second year of the contract, the across-the-board increases will also apply annually to the hiring ranges in B below. 1 st year 12/ % 2 nd year 13/ % 3 rd year 14/ % Employee must be hired by April 1 to receive the across-the-board salary increase for the following year. SALARY/INSURANCE OFFSET - To remain unchanged per contract language. REMOVE THE SALARY/INSURANCE OFFSET B. New employees with school experience related to their classification of hire may be granted up to one (1) year of salary schedule experience for each year of school experience with a maximum placement at Step 13 Change to Step 7 a salary commensurate with experience within stated ranges in each classification. No newly-hired employee will be paid an amount exceeding that of the lowest paid person with five or more years in the classification. Lowest Placement ($/hr) Highest Placement ($/hr) Category A - Specialists, Admin Asst Category B - Clerks Category C - Deans Assistants Category D Program Asst Category D2 -PA w/degree Category D3- PCA Category D4- PCA w/degree Category E - Custodian Category F - Maintenance C. Employees permanently transferred and/or promoted to a higher-paid classification will receive raises based on the difference between the hourly rate of the current category and the hourly rate of the new category as indicated in beginning salary listed above. Example: Move from Category B to Category D2 would provide an increase of $.50/hour ($ $11.51)
8 D. Dean Specialists Lane Modification Plan Create a single, separate lane for Deans Specialist that reflects the current pay rate and practice for that position, which is $1.50 over the steps of the current Column A for current and future employees. 7.3 SALARY LONGEVITY BONUS Employees hired before July 1, 2012, will be eligible for a longevity bonus after the completion of twenty (20) years of service with District 94. This adjustment will be paid in the form of a bonus to each staff member in the amount of 1% of his/her annual salary. The bonus will be spread equally among the employee s 24 paychecks. For employees hired on or after July 1, 2012, 1% salary adjustment will be provided to said employees with ten or more years of service at District 94, regardless of step placement on the salary schedule. This adjustment will be paid in the form of a bonus to each staff member in the amount of 1% of his/her annual step placement (or salary in the case of salaried employees). The bonus will be spread equally among the employee s 24 paychecks. 7.4 RETIREMENT STIPEND To remain unchanged per contract language. A member of the bargaining unit who submits an irrevocable notice of retirement to the Board at least six (6) months in advance of his/her planned retirement date shall be eligible for the following one-time stipend to be paid on the employee s last paycheck: 17 or more years of service less than 20 years of service: $3, or more years of service: $4,000 For the purpose of this contractual provision, years shall be defined as consecutive calendar years. In addition, years refers to years worked; an unpaid leave of absence of ninety (90) or more business days, other than Family and Medical Leave, shall not be counted towards the years worked for the purpose of this section. 8.1 INSURANCE PROGRAM To remain unchanged per contract language. Cost-saving Incentive Employees moving to a less expensive plan will receive the following one-time incentive: PPO2 - $500 PPO3 - $1,000 All HMO - $250 INSURANCE PREMIUM SHARES (BOE/EMPLOYEE) HMO 85/15% PPO3 85/15% PPO2 85/15% PPO1 75/25% --- FY /28% --- FY /30% --- FY Evaluations A. By September 15 of each school year or within two (2) weeks of employment, each employee shall be advised by his/her supervisor of the evaluation procedures, expectations, standards of performance, and given a copy of the appropriate job description.
9 B. Employees shall be provided informal feedback from the supervisor on an ongoing basis in the form of conferences, and signed and dated written memoranda which outline areas of concern, expectations and goals. Annually, the employee shall be provided with a written evaluation by their immediate supervisor and/or the appropriate administrator, who shall meet with them to discuss the evaluation. C. A copy of the written evaluation, and, if applicable, recommendations for performance improvement, shall be given to the employee being evaluated. The employee shall have the opportunity to sign the evaluation report that is to be placed in the employee's personnel folder. D. The employee's signature does not mean that the employee agrees with the evaluation. The employee shall be able to respond and/or dispute in writing to any and all areas of the evaluation within twenty (20) work days of receipt of the evaluation and have said response attached to the evaluation in the personnel folder. E. The evaluation instrument shall include, but not be limited to, those duties enumerated in the job description.