School workers agree to 9.5% cut, more later
By Maureen Robertson
In a special meeting Tuesday morning, Ramona Unified School District trustees ratified a three-year agreement that means a 9.5 percent cut for the district’s support staff this year and an 11.5 percent cut for the next two school years.
“This involves some significant employee concessions,” said Anne Staffieri, assistant superintendent of human resources development.
The agreement affects approximately 350 of the district’s 631 employees. They work in non-teaching and non-management jobs such as food services, transportation, clerical, custodial, and maintenance.
California School Employees Association (CSEA) members supported the agreement in a 95-38 vote on Friday.
The agreement calls for 10 unpaid furlough days this year and in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and a 3.4 percent pay cut this year, a 4.9 percent cut next year, and a 4.48 percent cut in 2014-15. For the first time, CSEA members receiving district health benefits will contribute to the premiums in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Calling the agreement bittersweet and a hard sell, Ramona CSEA President Jim King said he has criticized the board in the past — “sometimes it felt like a dictatorship” — but “finally, when actual negotiations took place, we were able to come to an agreement.”
He said he appreciates the board’s direction as well as Staffieri and the district’s negotiating team, and hopes “we can start turning this around.”
The agreement establishes an alternative retirement program for the estimated 134 part-time employees who don’t qualify for Social Security yet they and the district pay into the Social Security system.
“PARS (Public Employees Alternative Retirement System) is an alternative, so people, instead of paying into Social Security, can opt to pay into their own savings account to use for their own retirement later,” said Staffieri.
The agreement also changes layoff tiebreaking criteria and the procedure to fill vacancies in transportation when a worker is on extended leave.
Contingency language addresses the governor’s tax initiative on the November ballot and other district bargaining units. Ramona Teachers Association and the district did not reach consensus at their negotiating meeting last week but plan to continue their talks on Oct. 10.
Staffieri and the three board members at the special meeting Tuesday thanked CSEA for its leadership.
“Obviously, (this is) not an opportunity to celebrate, but very appreciative of your leadership and even probably more so the commitment that you guys made as an organization to continually support the bigger vision of the district,” said Dan Lopez, board president. “…Thank you to your leadership team, thank you to your entire organization.”
“I’m proud of CSEA taking the initiative, and thank you very much for understanding and getting it,” said Trustee Kim Lasley.
Trustee Dawn Perfect agreed, calling the agreement an amazing accomplishment.
“It’s a solid direction for the district and … very difficult for every employee in this district,” she said.
The agreement will save the district $2.8 million in the next three years: $776,719 this year, $1 million in 2013-14, and $1 million in 2014-15.
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