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Classified Staff At Impasse Regarding Wages

STANDING+GROUND%3A+Darla+Deme+is+one+of+several+classified+staff+members+requesting+higher+pay.+
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Classified Staff At Impasse Regarding Wages

STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

Justin Schmidt, Maddie Elias

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STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

STANDING GROUND: Darla Deme is one of several classified staff members requesting higher pay.

The Tam district has reached an impasse in contract negotiation with the classified staff, which includes non-teachers such as secretaries and custodians.

Classified and clerical staff workers operate under a different contract from teachers and administrators, with different qualifications and lower salaries. For the past 11 months, a new labor contract has been debated for the year of 2011-2012.

Negotiations have gotten more intense recently, as both the administration and the workers are unwilling to give into demands.

Most recently, a public statement on the situation reported that the district proposed a two percent salary increase for non-teacher employees starting July 1, 2013, as well as that the eligibility age for retired employees to receive health benefits be changed from 55 to 60.

After seven negotiation sessions and approximately 47 hours of bargaining, the non-teaching party and the district have come to an impasse on the matter. John Carrol, the administrations spokesman, said that the district has already made concessions while the union did not. “Our classified staff is highest paid in the region, and we’re offering a raise that will make [salaries] even higher,” he said.

Classified staff members like IT Data Specialist Darla Deme said workers feel undercompensated. “The classified staff has been reduced by 25 percent and the remaining members are asked to take on the responsibilities of the missing staff workers, for the same pay we were getting before,” said Deme.

Laura Ibanez, Tam High Union president and lead negotiator for the non-teacher members of the district, represents the members. “Many of our employees came to work here at the district years ago when the market was good and stocks were high,” she said. “They chose to take these jobs knowing they were making much less than those working in the corporate world because their passion is to work with students in education.”

Outspoken members like Deme claim the raise is too low. “A 3 percent increase in salary is the cost of living, so asking us to take 1 or 2 percent increase is far too low,” she said. “Because living in this community is so expensive, we must commute from far away to even be able to work here.”

Ibanez continues to represent classified and clerical staff members in negotiations. “The non-faculty members are really strong and united about what their negotiators have been offered at the table and what they believe they deserve in compensation and health benefits,” she said.

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Classified Staff At Impasse Regarding Wages