The T/E Non-Instructional Group which represents secretaries, maintenance staff, custodians, cafeteria workers and security personnel will save their jobs from outsourcing. The school district will save an estimated $2.3 million over the union's current contract.
The board unanimously approved the contract in a vote during a special meeting Monday at Conestoga High School.
The three year deal which will be effective July 1, 2014-June 30,2017 is an acknowledgement that contractors could have done the same worker less expensively. It also is seen by both sides as a vote of support for the district's current employees, who will be taking a pay cut and wage freezes in exchange for a promise that the district will not outsource their jobs.
Key items in the contract as outlined by the school district:
- Three year contract (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2017)
- Two percent wage reduction in year one for custodial employees
- Four percent wage reduction in Year 1 for secretarial, Maintenance, Security, Transportation and Food Service employees
- Wage freeze in Years 2 and 3 for all TENIG employees
- Employees hired after July 1, 2014 will be places on a reduced wage scale (starting at $14/hour for custodians. The wages vary by position and the full list can be seen on page 21 of the contract which is available here on the district's website)
- There will be no outsourcing for any jobs currently done by TENIG union workers prior to June 27, 2017
- Change to Personal Choice Medical Plan C4 F4 02 with Prescription Plan 0/25/5
- Annual Employee Contribution (premium share) 6% of Medical Plan
- All Custodial employees are entitled to one week less of vacation than other TENIG employees in each year of the contract.
- Employees hired after July 1, 2014 will have reduced vacation day
- Separation incentive (several eligible TENIG members who have been with the district for 15 years or more could get a "buyout" for retiring or leaving. The people who would replace them would be hired at a lower hourly rate and under the new contract parameters, which the district says would offset the buyout costs and save money in the long-run).
- No outsourcing for any TENIG employees prior to June 27, 2017
Board members, including Finance Committee Chair Betsy Fadem emphasized several times during the meeting that while economic realities forced the board to look at every way possible to save money, including outsourcing, their desire was never to lose TENIG employees. Virtually every board member present expressed their gratitude to the TENIG union members not only for their service but for their willingness to take some hard hits in order to make it possible to avoid going the outsourcing route.
According to district estimates, the trade-off for avoiding outsourcing is an increase cost over what farming out the work to contractors would have been.
According to information provided by the district, the contract as signed is projected to save the school district $2.3 million over three years. That amounts to $766,666 for each year of the contract. The district estimated that outsourcing the same jobs would have save $1.9million in each year. Board Member (and former Board President) Karen Cruickshank summed up the situation by saying "these are really tough decisions. We've seen everybody in the district (meaning staff, union and the public) pull together."
Board Member Richard Brake who is runing for re-election in November noted "This country is deep trouble... This agreement doesn't solve the problem. At this point it's bailing water out of a leaky boat and that's what we've been doing for the last four years... If everyone is hurting than I guess there's an equity about that."
In the end the boar unanimously approved the contract and each board member shook hands with the union president, thanking her on behalf of the 169 members of her union.
"We have great jobs, working at T/E is phenominal. It's a great place to be. Who wouldn't want to work here. We get treated well. The kids are great, it's just a great place to be. It's worth it.
You can read the full contract which is now posted on here on the T/E District's website