Saturday, January 26, 2013

Who Are You Bargaining For?

The question of the day is: WHY is the SPEA Negotiating Team dragging out negotiations for 2012-13 (Hello!  We're beyond the midway point!  Time to start working for 2013-14!!!)

The school board offered a very fair package which addresses what SPEA (and WEAC) have declared to be a primary mission: raising the starting wage for teachers.  But that's not good enough.  You see, in order to do that with the pot of money available, a significant portion must be earmarked for those teachers with 1-6 years of experience.  That means that a small amount would be available to more tenured teachers, most in the form of a stipend (as opposed to a base salary builder).

It's called compromise, people!   You are getting to do some serious good for starting teachers.  But you're not willing to accept that because this plan calls for either a small token stipend (or perhaps nothing) for those teachers that already earn like...say...$86,000 in base salary. REALLY?  Is THAT what unions are all about?

Here's a novel idea.
If the union is really... well....unified...
...and union members really feel strongly but raising the base wage...
If they are that unhappy with a stipend amount of $460 each, why don't they all agree to donate those stipends to further increase the base wage?   As it is, the board proposal still means a base wage that is no more than par with the average paid throughout Dane Co. districts.
If even HALF of the stipend amount going to the upper 2/3 was used to further increase the base wage of those on the bottom rung, we could have a very competitive base wage.
What? sacrifice $500 to help your fellow teachers just starting out?  Fat chance!

What does a 2% across the board pay increase look like?
Let's take a look at that 2% increase and how it would play out the way SPEA wants it to.  Now, the best way to do that is to use that great salary matrix(for 2011-12 ending June 2012) put together by the District Office.  Yes...we'll state it up front...some of those upper end teachers (and some throughout the list) have either retired or moved on.  But we need a model to work with and this is what we have.
We also culled the list; we sorted it by base salary and excluded all individuals earning below $32,505, which is the base wage for a starting teacher.

What we are let with was a list of 552 staff members.
The total base salary of these folks was $26,971,406.
Th school board has budgeted for 2% of that amount for wage increases.
2% comes to $539,428.

Now...from the top of that amount, we have to pay those that earned a step or lane change.  The rest would be available for across the board (or whatever) wage increases.  For our purposes here,however, let's just assume there were no lane/step payments.  Let's just spread that $539 K evenly across the board at 2% increase per person.  And let's split the 552 employees into three groups, those earning the top, the bottom, and the mid-range base salaries.

And here's what happens....

Why should the upper 184 teachers glom onto 42.8% of the available wage increase pool?

Is SPEA suggesting that by virtue of tenure, those teachers at the top deserve a larger share of the pool?  Because while a 2% "across the board" wage increase sounds equitable, clearly it is not.

Remember...we only simplified this.  In actuality, after paying for those due an increase for lane or step movement (hopefully for the last time), we can only raise the base wage for teachers with less than 7 years tenure to $35,000.  That will leave approximately $460 for each of the remaining staff members paid as a stipend rather than a basebuilder.

For actual details of the standing school board offer: