The Anchorage School District and their teachers union, the Anchorage Education Association (AEA), have agreed on the parameters of a labor contract extension through 2017. That is according to an email sent to AEA members from the union’s president Andy Holleman late Thursday.
That email says in the new agreement teachers will get a salary increase of “1% to all cells on the salary scale”, a “$1,000 cash bonus”, and an increased contribution to health care premiums.
The biggest thing teachers may have gotten in the deal is time. A major theme running through the message to union members is how much the state’s financial problems loom over any negotiations.
The letter says:
“This would offer some security for members as the legislative session opens. We both avoid the most difficult aspect of bargaining precisely when budgets across the state are taking cuts.”
By getting a one year extension union members and the school district both buy time to see how the state acts to address its budget crisis. Both sides can then negotiate with a better understanding of the fiscal landscape they face.
Here is the full text of the letter to AEA members:
PLEASE READ. THIS AFFECTS EVERY MEMBER!
RE: Contract Extension Agreement
I think everyone is aware that we’ve been on our normal approach to bargaining, and have anticipated starting formally in January. I’m certain that everyone is aware as well of the extraordinary times we are facing in public education generally and with the Alaska state budget deficit in particular.
While we prepared to bargain (and continue to prepare), we also had discussions with ASD Human Resources about a simple agreement that could be completed quickly. This would offer some security for members as the legislative session opens. We both avoid the most difficult aspect of bargaining precisely when budgets across the state are taking cuts.
The results of those discussions is an agreement that increases your paycheck some for the coming year while putting discussions about language on hold. This came about suddenly at very end of last week and had to be reviewed by the respective Bargaining Teams and Boards.
As is always the case, this is not a perfect solution to all of our concerns, but it is significant in lean times. Both the AEA Bargaining Team and the AEA Board of Directors felt it should come to the membership for a vote.
If approved, the contract extension would only change the existing contract in the following ways:
– Add 1% to all cells on the salary scale for this year, to create the salary scale for next year;
– Provide for a one-time $1,000 cash “bonus” payment in October 2016;
– Increase the monthly ASD contribution to health care premiums from $1,540 per month to $1,580, and;
– Change the expiration date of the current contract to June 30, 2017.
All other terms and conditions of the current contract will remain the same, including step/lane movement and the “in lieu of step” payment for those that have topped out on the schedule.
Because you will certainly have a lot of questions, we’ll be scheduling four evening meetings that any member can attend at high schools spread around the District, and we are currently in the process of making those arrangements. The AEA bargaining team and I will be there to talk to you about the advantages and disadvantages of this agreement. We’re also happy to entertain questions over email, and we’ll post information online. We anticipate an electronic ballot on the contract extension prior to Thanksgiving holidays.
If members turn this down, the Bargaining Team will continue on with the same anticipated schedule we’ve been working on for some time.
If it is accepted, we will retain the same bargaining team and re-frame their schedule to continue to meet this winter and spring, continue work on a proposal that includes language based on member concerns and survey results, and prepare to be at the table at the usual time next year. In the meantime the State of Alaska will be working on their budget issues, the long-term revenue from oil and other sources will be more apparent, and the value that Alaskan’s place on public education, even in tough economic times, should become more clear.
This is a significant and important decision. I’m happy to be able to bring it to members for their examination and consideration. I urge you to find time over the next several weeks to make an informed decision. It will be the decision of the membership that determines how we go forward.