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Schools, union closing in on a contract

Katherine Morris

After failing to ratify the first tentative agreement between union and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District negotiators, classified employees are expected to return to the voting booth sometime in the next few weeks to determine the fate of a second, revised agreement.

Earlier this week, a handful of members and representatives from the district’s California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter #383, met to discuss the details of that agreement, as well as the job study that is expected to be implemented as part of it.

“I myself, as well as other members of the negotiating team feel that we’ve stretched this [agreement] and the district as far as it can go,” local CSEA President Ricci Fisher told the crowd. “I feel that this is a fair offer considering the financial situation that the district is looking at.”

That offer includes: a one-time, off-schedule bonus equal to 2.36 percent of his/her 2001/02 annual base salary, a $24.10 per month increase in the health benefits cap and implementation of the district’s job study, which would mean reclassification, revision of job descriptions and implementation of a new 10-step salary schedule.

“The new schedule has a 2.5 percent differential between each range, and a 4 percent differential between each step,” stated a flyer handed out to audience members. “On July 1, 2002 each unit member shall be: moved onto the new salary schedule to the range proposed by the job study, then placed at a step on that range that is closest to the unit member’s current salary without being less, and immediately moved one step…”

As members of the audience expressed various concerns, Fisher, other CSEA board members and Omega Brewer, a regional union representative and guest speaker, fielded questions.

The first tentative agreement between CSEA and the district failed to include an off-schedule bonus or an increase in the benefits cap, which according to Fisher, were the main reasons it was voted down. Negotiations between the two groups have been ongoing since last October.

While Fisher said the new agreement calls for only partial implementation of the job study, it’s good a start, as far as bringing salaries for classified employees back up to a competitive level.

“The high cost simply makes full implementation an impossible option,” he said. “It would cost the district as much as a million and a half dollars more if they were to try and do everything in the study, and that’s simply not possible right now.”

Fisher said he’s hoping to send out mailers to union members within the next few weeks, which means a ratification vote could come sometime before the end of the month.

“A major concern is that we don’t violate any negotiating rules and procedures,” he said.


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