MEA and the District presented the issues at impasse at a hearing before Special Magistrate Robert Hoffman held on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. To view the Special Magistrate's recommendations as well as documents relevant to the hearing, please click on the link above.
Keep Manatee County’s School Board from further weakening the local economy and your pay!
The School District is proposing deeper than needed cuts in salary and benefits for its employees. They want to cut your pay to help increase budget reserves. These cuts in pay are unwarranted, unnecessary and take money out of our local economy! Employees shop locally and live and raise families here. The continued reduction in pay and increases in benefit costs will force many employees to make tough decisions in how and where to spend their limited dollars.
Keep the School Board from making harmful decisions!
MEA members have seen their buying power decreased in each year beginning in 2008-09 and continuing through the 2010-11 school year. The average teacher salary in Manatee County has fallen $1,700 in that time, equal to a reduction of more than three percent (3.33%) of salary. During the 2011 legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring public school employees participating in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) to contribute three percent (3%) of the individual’s salary to the retirement system beginning July 1, 2011. These dollars were previously available for employees to spend in the local economy. Now the Manatee County School District Superintendent and Board have proposed an additional reduction of two and three quarter percent (2.75%) in salary for teachers and three furlough days for paraprofessionals for the 2011-12 year. With these actions the average teacher will have $3,500 less to spend at local businesses this year. Paraprofessionals will have $1,500 less to spend. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
The Superintendent’s preliminary budget proposals demonstrate that this salary reduction is not the result of the state budget cuts. Three million dollars ($3,000,000) of cuts were approved by the Board to be used for other purposes within the budget. MEA contends that the three million dollars remains in the budget and can be used for employee salaries. These proposed salary cuts and the reduced spending in the local economy are not necessary.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
In addition, the Superintendent has proposed to increase employee health insurance premiums by an average of twenty-six percent (26%) with some increasing by more than 100%. This is eight percent more in increased premiums than recommended by the Health Insurance Committee. The Superintendent and his negotiators have ignored the recommendations of the Committee and are relying on old data from a flawed report based on parameters provided by the Superintendent.
This means that the spending power of teachers and paraprofessionals will be reduced by thousands of dollars and less will be spent in the local economy. The impact will be a reduction in approximately $10,000,000 to local businesses this year. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
MEA’s negotiations team met with the Superintendent’s negotiations team on Wednesday October 5, 2011. Scott Martin, the Superintendent’s Chief Negotiator was not prepared to respond to the questions and proposals provided by MEA in the prior negotiations, but proposed a new HMO Health Plan never discussed by the Health Insurance Committee. MEA asked a number of questions about the plan, and Mr. Martin said they would get back with MEA about some of the unanswered questions. The next day, Thursday, October 6th, Mr. Martin sent MEA a letter declaring impasse in negotiations. This letter stated, “While good work has been done, it appears that we are unable to resolve our issues through bargaining.”
MEA has bargained in good faith with the goal of reaching an agreement. The Superintendent and Board seem more intent on imposing their desires on employees than listening to them. The Health Insurance Committee recommendation was dismissed by the Superintendent’s negotiators. The Teacher Evaluation Committee met on Thursday toward making a recommendation to bargaining. MEA proposed changes to the collective bargaining agreement that the Superintendent’s negotiators have not responded to, other than to say “we will get back on that issue.” Only two written proposals have been submitted by the Superintendent to MEA in negotiations – an incomplete modification to the Life Insurance provision and the new HMO plan presented the night before declaring impasse.
It is clear the Superintendent and the Board are more interested in imposing unnecessary cuts and unneeded increases in health insurance premiums than listening to the concerns of teachers and paraprofessionals.
What is the current status of negotiations between MEA and the District?
Negotiations between MEA and the District are becoming more strained with each bargaining session. The District seems to be less interested in reaching an agreement and more interested in unnecessarily taking more money away from employees. Although the state has cut the budget, the Superintendent’s negotiators are pushing for deeper cuts in salary and benefits than are required to balance the budget and stabilize the health plan. MEA believes that the salary and benefit reductions proposed by the District are not necessary, are unwarranted and will negatively impact the Manatee County economy by $9,600,000. Although some noteworthy language issues have been tentatively agreed to, the District has not budged on their salary and benefit proposals: cut teacher pay by 2.75%, furlough paraprofessionals three days, increase health insurance premiums more than the recommendation of the Health Insurance Committee (based on the faulty Mercer report issued over a year ago), cut life insurance benefits in half, and require virtual teachers to purchase the equipment, hardware and internet access needed to perform the basic job functions - without compensation. The next bargaining session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday October 5, 2011.
MEA negotiators have reviewed the District budget documents and questioned the District regarding nearly 30 concerns within the document. The District’s response to these questions can be reviewed here. In addition, MEA negotiators participated in the Health Insurance Committee along with the representatives appointed by AFSCME and those appointed by the Superintendent. The joint committee has studied the health plan data in depth. Even though the committee recommendation will further increase premiums for the Board and employees for the next plan year beginning January 1, 2012, MEA currently believes the appropriate course to take to ensure the viability of the Health Plan is to accept the recommendation of the committee. MEA believes that the Health Insurance Committee is the appropriate body to make recommendations related to negotiations on health benefits and premiums, not an outside consultant hired by the Superintendent. The Health plan does not need additional funding for the 2011 or 2012 years over and above the current premiums for 2011 and the recommended premiums for 2012. These are tough economic times but enough is enough! For more questions on the budget or Health Insurance Committee please contact Bruce Proud, MEA Business Representative at email@example.com.
Regardless of the School Board decisions related to proposed budget cuts or the Superintendent’s bargaining proposals for salary cuts beyond what is needed to balance the budget and unnecessary Health Plan premium increases, no changes in wages, benefits, terms and conditions of employment may be legally implemented until the negotiations process is completed.
What actions can I take?
The negative impacts of the Board proposals will reduce employee spending power this year by nearly $3,500 for teachers and more than $1,500 for paraprofessionals. MEA wants to know more about how these cuts will squeeze local businesses, which local businesses will see fewer of your dollars and how will the cuts impact your personal spending on your classroom in the next year if these cuts are implemented. Please click on the link below and complete the MEA Survey on the Local Economic Impact of these further unnecessary cuts:
In addition, every MEA bargaining unit member can support the MEA negotiations team by contacting the Superintendent and School Board members and letting them know that cutting employee salary deeper than needed and increasing insurance premiums higher than necessary is wrong.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
August 24, 2011
What happened over the summer regarding the collective bargaining process?
During the June 7, 2011 Legislative Hearing the School Board imposed Health Insurance premium increases for 2011, a reduction in Terminal Pay benefits effective July 1, 2011, a later date in the work year for notification of renewal status and salary experience step advancement on the schedule only after negotiations is concluded.
Both the Teacher and Paraprofessional bargaining unit employees voted to reject the imposed agreement including those items tentatively agreed to prior to impasse. Specific information about the ratification vote is available on MEA’s “Know Your Contract” page.
What does this mean for the start of the 2011-12 year?
Only those changes imposed by the School Board during the impasse hearing will be implemented for the next fiscal year. Any tentative agreement changes will not be implemented, but may be renegotiated. Therefore, teacher and paraprofessional pay for the beginning of the year will not reflect any changes from last year’s salary. There will be no experience step advancement unless negotiated and ratified by both employees and the School Board. Health insurance premium increases will be deducted in the first payroll and will continue until modified through negotiations. Terminal pay will reflect the July 1, 2011 imposed modifications. A copy of the imposed, but not ratified collective bargaining agreement is available on MEA’s “Know Your Contract” page.
How will the legislative changes in the Florida Retirement System impact my pay?
The legislature approved a budget that requires FRS members to contribute three percent (3%) of their salary toward their pension. Your first pay of the year will reflect the deduction of your individual 3% FRS contribution. The impact on the average teacher for this legislative change is approximately $1,417 per year or about $60 from each of the twenty-four pay checks. The average paraprofessional will contribute around $571 or approximately $24 each pay check, for 24 pay periods. The total impact for all teachers and paraprofessionals is nearly four million dollars ($4,000,000) that will not be available for teachers and paraprofessionals to spend in Manatee County.
What other impacts are there related to budget cuts and negotiations for the 2011-12 year?
Regardless of the School Board decisions related to proposed budget cuts, no changes in wages, benefits, terms and conditions of employment may be implemented until the negotiations process is completed. Although there have been School Board meetings and news reports that teacher pay will be reduced and employees will suffer furlough days, these are subject to negotiations and are not legally implemented prior to the completion of the negotiations process for the 2011-12 year. Therefore, your initial paychecks will not reflect a change in your salary. Returning employee pay will be the same as last year’s salary. Only the FRS contribution and health insurance premium deductions will impact employee pay as negotiations continue.
What is happening in negotiations?
The MEA and the District negotiations teams began negotiations for the 2011-12 year immediately following the rejection of the 2010-11 imposed contracts for teachers and paraprofessionals. The teams met, using a traditional negotiations process, on June 28, July, 12, 14, 27, 28 and August 17 and 23. Additional bargaining sessions are scheduled for September. In addition, the Teacher Evaluation Committee has been meeting over the past year to revise the Teacher Evaluation System and the Health Insurance Committee has been meeting to discuss the Health Insurance benefit plans and premiums for the 2012 plan year that begins January 1, 2012. Both Committees will present their recommendations to the negotiations teams.
Several of the tentative agreements from last year have been resubmitted in negotiations and have been tentatively agreed to by the parties. MEA has submitted proposed changes to the imposed items and the impact of imposed items, including the salary experience step advancement and terminal pay, on items impacted by changes in a few paraprofessional job descriptions, and on impact items as a result of legislation. The District has proposed to reduce salary for teachers by 2.75%, to furlough paraprofessionals for three (3) days, to reduce School District paid Life Insurance (Article XII, Section) and to increase Health Insurance employee share of premiums effective January 1, 2012. (Additional increase ranging from zero percent (0%) for Blue Options coverage to more than six hundred thirty percent (630%) for Blue Care HMO employee coverage). The impact of the District’s proposed reduction in salary and benefits will reduce employee take home pay by approximately six million two hundred thousand dollars ($6,200,000). With the FRS contribution and the District proposals the impact is $10,200,000 less in the Manatee County economy. If the District proposals are implemented, the average teacher would have about $3,600 less to spend in the community during the 2011-12 year. Paraprofessionals would have nearly $1,800 less on average to spend in the community. MEA believes that the salary and benefit reductions proposed by the District are not necessary, are unwarranted and will negatively impact the Manatee County economy. Read more information about MEA and District proposals and the impact of these proposals by visiting MEA’s “Recent News” page.
What action can MEA members take?
Each MEA member can support the MEA negotiations team by contacting the Superintendent and School Board members and letting them know about the individual and family impacts from further take backs like those proposed by the District. At a recent School Board meeting, a School Board member reported that she had talked with about 500 teachers that day and these teachers told her that “they were happy to just have a job” and that “they were willing to do whatever it takes to keep jobs.” This is not what teachers and paraprofessionals are reporting to MEA. Make sure the School Board members hear from you! Superintendent and School Board Member Contact Information