Negotiations 2017

11/20/2017: Mediation results

We have a tentative agreement:
Tentative Agreement
Article 19
November 20, 2017
1. The VUEA compensation for the 2016-17 & 20 17-18 school year
2. The District contributions for health, dental and vision insurance for unit members for the 2016-17 & 20 17-18 school year
• A $400.00 off schedule bonus paid to each employee. To be eligible the employee must be employed for at least 50% of their work year for the 2016/17 school year. For part-time employees the bonus will be prorated based on individual assignment.
• The District contribution to the cost of employee Health and Welfare benefits for full time and 80% or greater employees shall be increased by $480 (2.64%). The 2015-16 contribution agreement of $ 15,480 will increase to $ 15,888. Any future year change to the District contribution must be agreed upon by each party. (There will be no employee contribution to Health and Welfare benefits for the 2016-1 7 school year for full time or 80% or greater employees).
*(In addition, the District will continue to fund step and column advancement and longevity which is equal to approximately 1.25% of total VUEA salary cost.)
** (In addition, the district’s contribution to employee’s retirement (STRS) has increased by 1.85% for the 2016-17 school year.)
• A 2% increase to the salary schedule effective mid-year based on each employee’s work calendar.
• Change Article 12 to allow the use of sick leave for Personal Necessity Leave days to be increased
from 7 to 9 in any one school year.
• The District will fund the cost of employee Health and Welfare benefits for fu ll time and 80% or
greater employees at the 2017- 18 cost of $ 15,888. Any future year change to the District
contribution must be agreed upon by each party. (There will be no employee contri bution to Health
and Welfare benefits for the 20 17-18 school year for full time or 80% or greater employees).
*(In addition, the District will continue to fund step and column advancement and longevity
which is equal to approximately J .25% of total VUEA salary cost.)
** (The district’s contribution to employee’s retirement (STRS) has increased by an
additional 1.85% for the 2017-18 school year.)

The next steps are clear.  VUEA membership has to ratify the contract, by membership vote.  The vote happens AFTER the next Rep Council meeting, which is December 11th.  I hope we will start the vote that week.


11/1/2017: Here we are

Why are we at impasse?

VUEA and VESPA have been negotiating with the district since the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The district’s initial offer for a salary increase was nothing. VUEA and VESPA decided that a 2% on schedule increase was affordable and fair. We continue to hold this position. The current estimated cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the last two years is more than 2%. Our current offer for the last two years (2016-2017 and 2017-2018) remains 2% on schedule, which is below the estimated cost of living adjustment for those years. Ventura Unified employees remain at the bottom half of salaries when compared to surrounding districts, while administration salaries stand within the top 5. We feel that this income inequality is an insult to VUSD employees and demonstrates the true priorities of the administration. The district has remained firm at 1% on schedule. Failing to come to any agreement, and seeing no movement from the district, all parties have declared impasse.

What does impasse mean?

Impasse involves multiple steps. Initially a state mediator will become involved, and communicate separately with all parties in an attempt to come to a settlement. An agreement can be reached during this initial step. If no agreement is reached, the process moves to a phase known as “fact finding”. In this phase, both parties will present arguments as to why they believe their offer is fair and affordable. We believe the district can afford a 2% salary increase for its employees. The state will determine, at this point, what they believe is a final offer. Both the district and/or the associations (VUEA and VESPA) can choose whether or not to accept this offer. Then, and only then, would the associations consider a work stoppage (also known as a “strike”). Let us be clear, we do NOT want to arrive at this point, but if the district puts us there, we will.

What are we doing at this point?

VUEA and VESPA are in the progress of implementing an aggressive and comprehensive public relations campaign. Among other things, this involves building a database of sympathetic community members and parents who stand by our side, mobilizing teachers, classified and certificated staff, community leaders, and voters. Our message remains clear:

We are worth more than 1%!

The goals of the associations are two-fold:

1. Inform the public as to the current status of negotiations, the importance of recruiting and retaining quality educators, and the value of ensuring that all staff in Ventura Unified feel valued and respected by their management and administration.

2. Arrive at a settlement that not only ensures a fair and equitable salary, but that raises VUEA and VESPA to a level of parity and equal partnership with the administration. Ultimately, VUEA and VESPA leaders do not feel that the associations have been treated with the level of respect owed to teachers and staff throughout this process. This has been demonstrated through negotiations delays, lack of acceptable movement on the part of the administration, and not being included in the initial budget at the beginning of the fiscal year. We feel that Ventura Unified employees deserve to be treated as a primary consideration during the budget process, and not to be offered what is only left over at the end of the fiscal year. We want what’s right, not what’s left.

What are my rights during this process?

Materials distributed during this process (buttons, signs, etc.) can be worn on campus as long as they do not disturb the educational process. You can wear buttons and place signs in cars while on school campuses, but cannot discuss (beyond a brief conversation) the current process with students and/or parents/guardians. If asked, please briefly describe the information mentioned above and inform the student/parent that you would be happy to discuss the issue further at a time not conflicting with school hours. As this is not a political campaign, you have a legal right to wear and display supportive material. If asked to desist, the association asks that you comply, and inform your local site representative. We will promptly begin a grievance process that utilizes the resources of our governing associations.

What can I do to help?

First of all, you already are! By reading this and informing yourself as to this process, you are helping. You are already involved because you work in the district, and we want to make sure that you continue to have the ability to live and work comfortably in Ventura.

1. Your site representatives will be distributing materials to you as soon as possible; display them.

2. Talk to community members, and encourage them to write or call the school board to express their concern and dissatisfaction (see below).

3. Talk to your site reps about specific strategies to ensure that we reach an agreement as soon as possible.

When will this be over?

Our goal remains a 2% on-schedule bonus for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 years. This is the equivalent of 1% for both years. We have reviewed the books, and we believe the district can afford this increase. More importantly, it moves Ventura Unified in the direction of becoming more competitive when compared with salaries in surrounding districts. We would like to come to an agreement as soon as possible. However, the district has remained firm at 1%. We need your support, and we need to make it clear to the school board and superintendent that we deserve to be respected.

10/12/2017: Where we are:

Actions to take now

Many of you have asked what we can do now.  You want to take action and make something happen (and I appreciate that!)

Here are a few things that we CAN do.  More things will come as we put together the organization plan.  But for now, we can:

  1. Wear red!  It’s okay to wear your red VUEA t-shirt at school.
  2. Car signs.  You can come to school with signs in your car windows.  Many members have picked up signs at the board meetings/etc. and placed them in their car windows.  That’s okay.
  3. Spread the word on social media
    1. This is okay, but can be tricky.  You can;t officially speak for the district, nor can you speak for the VUEA.  I’m the only official spokesperson for the VUEA. You can, though, start things off with, “As a teacher in Ventura… ” or “as a librarian in Ventura…”.
    2. BE CAREFUL about where you post.  If you use your site or account to communicate with parents or students, then you can’t use it for this kind of conversation.  This has to be your personal account.
  4. Work to rule (work to contract)
    1. This means you work your required hours and fulfill your duties, but nothing else.
    2. For most of use, the hours are 7 hours and 15 minutes per day, 40 hours per week (including those 26.25 on site hours, so an additional 3.75 hours either on site or at home- think lesson planning and grading papers), and your two adjunct duties (2 duties, 6 hours each).
    3. IF you want to do this, PLEASE use this form.  Here’s why: working to contract can appear to be insubordination.  We don’t want that.  If you use this handy form, then you will have proof of your contracted work hours and duties.  Follow that, and you should be fine. If you have troubles, let me know.
      Here’s the link to the form: work_to_rule_info_form_principal


10/6/2017: Where we are, October 2017:

VUSD has offered
2.25% bonus check (off schedule) for 2016-17 and
1% ON schedule for 2017-2018

VUEA has asked for 2% OFF schedule for 2016-17, and
2% ON schedule for 2017-18

It’s the difference of 1%, and the district can’t manage it.

On October 6, 2017 VUSD declared that it had exhausted its interest in negotiating with the members of the Ventura Unified Education Association, the teachers union.  VUSD and VUEA have declared impasse.  VUSD made their final offer, and were surprised when the teachers, speech therapists, counselors and librarians didn’t accept the offer.  VUSD offered a 1% raise over two years, and felt comfortable that the educators would be grateful for any offer, and accept.

Most districts in the area received a 2% salary increase for the contract year 2016-2017, and expect a salary increase for 2017-18. VUSD has refused to settle the contract for 2016, instead employing delaying tactics.  When finally pressed to negotiate, VUSD offered a 0% increase.  Only after the close of the 2016-17 school year, and a large surplus, did VUSD realize it could and should offer a salary increase.  However, the increase offered was not an on-going increase, but instead a ‘one-time bonus’ of 2.25%.

Each year VUSD educators fall further behind in comparable salaries as compared to the teachers in the area.  VUSD teachers are currently ranked 12th in the area for salary.  We feel that, while our students are #1, we could accept being mid-level in the salary comparisons.  We encourage and support our kids to be #1, but we accept mediocrity in our salary.  We languish toward the bottom of the pay scale, and we lose qualified teachers and educators to local, higher paying districts each year.

We have reviewed the budget.  We have done our due diligence.  The funds are there.  Either VUSD supports educators, or turns its back on us. Today, the VUSD school board and the district admin have chosen to turn their backs on the educators, and students, of Ventura.  Shame on them for their cold approach to our most precious resource.