Classified Staff, District Settle Contract Dispute

Classified Staff, District Settle Contract Dispute

By Emma Boczek

Representatives for the California School Employees Association (CSEA), the union representing non-teaching classified employees, and the district ratified a new contract on June 19 that included multiple salary increases. This consensus came after months of stalled negotiations in the spring of this year.

“I’m just glad that it’s behind us now and we can move forward,” union member and Tam budget secretary Carol Craft said.

Lead custodian Pat Gannon was thankful that an agreement was finally reached, but was frustrated by the process it took to get there. “We spent a lot of time on this,” he said. “I don’t know why we had to go through all that.”

A petition calling for the community to support the classified staff’s “four year struggle for equity” has gathered 529 signatures to date. Additionally, a rally on March 27 of this year at a school board meeting drew over 70 members of the CSEA to protest the district’s treatment of their contract negotiations.

The contract that was agreed upon this summer included a three percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2012, and an additional two percent salary increase effective July 1, 2013. The age for eligibility for retiree health benefits was raised from 55 to 60, a change that the district’s teaching staff, who belong to a separate union from the CSEA, agreed to in 2011. The raising of the retirement age seemed to be a point of disagreement for many classified staff members and was something they felt they had to give up in the negotiations process.

Gannon still had worries about the repercussions of the layoffs of recent years, which were a contributing factor to the conflict this spring.

“In a school district as affluent as this, we can afford to have these extra positions,” he said. “We have more kids coming in here, and we’re having trouble providing services in a timely manner.”

Most classified employees expressed relief. “I’m just happy it was settled,” Craft said.

In a press release, Superintendent Laurie Kimbrel stated the district “look[s] forward to moving ahead into the 2013-14 school year and beyond with a continued commitment to cooperate.”