Teacher union, district at impasse on labor negotiations
Labor negotiations between the Tahoe Truckee Education Association and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District took center stage at Wednesday night’s board meeting, as local educators aired their frustrations during much of the public comment portion of the open meeting.
Though negotiations between the union and district occurred during the closed session of the meeting, Tahoe Truckee Education Association Treasurer Kate Teller offered insight on the position of the area’s educators.
“I have the dubious honor of standing before you tonight because our members currently have a disagreement with you over our level of compensation,” said Teller during Wednesday’s meeting.
“We would prefer to settle this at the negotiating table and don’t think public salary disagreements are ideal for anyone involved … Nevertheless, we feel the time has come to speak up on behalf of our members and the important work they do. We are grateful for the opportunity to do this through our civic structures — coming before our democratically elected school administrators in a public meeting. We do so respectfully, as both a partner and an advocate for the fair compensation of our members.”
Union representatives say they are seeking a pay raise — currently offered at 2% with additional increases based on property tax revenues. The union argues an increase in salary is due based on inflation, increased property tax revenues which provide the district funding, and other cost of living increases.
The district claims an increase would create a deficit going forward, citing financial burdens such as a recent change in the unemployment insurance rate that will see costs go up.
“For many, many years it’s been the minimal rate allowed by the state of .05%, which in our budget really amounts to a very minuscule amount,” said Todd Rivera, executive director of business services for the district. “It’s about $20,000. They have increased it to 1.23%, which that is 1.23% applied to the entire payroll of the district. So, in dollar amounts that increases our unemployment obligation to about $511,000, so a pretty significant increase that’s going to impact us next year. This is something that we’re not sure if it’s going to be a multi-year basis. Right now they’re just saying for 21-22.”
Representatives from the teacher’s union disagreed with the district’s projections regarding finances, and according to Teller, came down from a 3% increase in pay to their current offer of 2%.
“We want to compromise and find a solution that values our work, and respects the role of the board as stewards of the district’s finances overall,” said Teller. “The cost of living increase we have advocated for leaves additional monies available for other district priorities. But, keeping teacher and staff salaries in pace with inflation has to be one of those budget priorities going forward.”
Board Clerk Gaylan Larson concluded the meeting by acknowledging the union’s arguments while stating the board has to follow its fiduciary responsibilities going forward.
“As a trustee I have to go on the best information we have … the unemployment (insurance rate) that’s a percent,” said Larson. “That means we’re going to suffer the same next year as if we had agreed to a 3% increase. It’s going to be down considerably, heavy deficit spending.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643.
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