On Wednesday, January 19th your SPFE bargaining team had their 4th mediation session. At this session, the district provided a more detailed counter proposal on putting Educational Assistants into a cafeteria benefit plan. Movement into this plan would require all EAs to take health insurance from the district. The district proposed a $5 increase per month to EA health insurance contributions, if other SPFE bargaining units agreed to give up the married couple health insurance provision.
Your SPFE bargaining team gave counters on four district proposals: #2 Interview and Select, #7 Counselors as substitutes, #8 Seniority back to SPFE, and #21 Adult Basic Education MOU.
We are still slow on making progress. We believe there are some things we could come to agreement on if we had meaningful conversation. On Wednesday, we had minimal discussion with the district team about proposals. We spent most of the day working in separate caucuses.
We shared that the district financial parameter of only 1.5% for overall contract cost is going to be a barrier—the district has been clear that any proposal that costs money would come out of the 1.5% parameter. Additionally, they have refused to discuss any language that would provide for staffing improvements or guarantees for support for our students. This includes the proposals that build on improvements we negotiated previously with them, like class size and student mental health supports, that are currently in our contract. Now they want to remove them.
We have mediation again on Friday, January 28th.
As in previous years, it’s looking like SPPS will not make serious movement on the issues that matter most to members and our students without us taking escalating action. A strike petition will be circulating—if you stand for… please sign, the bargaining team will be working hard to set up meetings at each building to give a live update.