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War of words begins in MDUSD impasse with teachers’ union

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 6:28 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The gloves are off and both sides are coming out swinging.

In response to the district’s News Update about its impasse with the MDEA teachers’ union, the union has released the following “Fact Check:”

“ District’s comparison of cost is misleading. They project worst case scenario over two years when we are proposing a one year contract. The 2012-2013 costs have not been negotiated.

 District says if there is no drop in BRL, then they will not require reductions, yet in the next breath they say they will count cuts in transportation as if it were a cut in BRL. This negates the 2013 1.36% off schedule payment and makes furlough days likely.

 District complains that MDEA’s refusal to take conditional onetime payments hurts all other employees. They fail to mention that taking furlough days threatens the pay of the units who have closed contracts to a greater extent. Did not the district take money for over six months in 2011-2012 before refunding it without interest?

 MDEA demonstrated in 2010-2011 that they would take reductions if the district really needed them. Even if the cuts to ALL employees resulted in record
reserves.”

Shortly after MDEA sent out this Fact Check, Deb Cooksey and Julie Braun-Martin called me to clarify the district’s position. Cooksey immediately followed up with the email below, which outlines the points she wanted to stress:

“…Here is a follow up of our conversation. Like SFUSD, Elk Grove, Pittsburg, Sac City, Alameda and 2 districts in San Diego County, our District is at impasse with one of our unions. As discussed, the District would like to be able to give all employees a substantial ongoing raise but that is not the fiscal reality in which we are operating. Therefore, the District proposed a solution that would allow all employee groups, even those with closed contracts, the chance to reopen to receive the same increase of up to 3% that teachers would receive.

Last, Best and Final Offers (‘LBFO’)

The financial terms of the District’s LBFO are:

· Guaranteed one-time off-schedule 1.64% payment in 2011/12 which represents reimbursement for the 3 furlough days taken last year;

· No furlough days in 2011/12. In fact, the District has already refunded the money to employee groups who were anticipating furlough days this year and wanted to spread the fiscal impact over as many months as possible;

· Strictly as a precaution, the District would designate “Make No Plans Days” for 2012/13 on which teachers would not plan tests or outings. In the event of a mid-year budget cut requiring furlough days in 2012/13, the “Make No Plans Days” would be the dates on which employees would be furloughed. The idea of designating “Make No Plans Days” in advance is to avoid the repercussions we encountered last year when teachers had to cancel or reschedule long-planned events, sometimes at significant expense;

· One-time off-schedule payment of 1.36% in 12/13 if the budget remains flat or increases; and

· Increases in certain hourly rates for teachers.

The financial terms MDEA’s LBFO is for a one-time guaranteed 3% one-time increase irrespective of what happens with the state budget next year; and increases in certain hourly rates for teachers. Since this is a one year deal no furlough days would be negotiated for next year. They would have to be negotiated after the November election.

Unappropriated Ending Balance (‘UEB’)

The monetary differences in the UEB between the two offers is slight if the taxes pass and there are not mid-year cuts. However, if the taxes fail and cuts are required, the difference in the UEB between the parties’ offers is -$13.1M. Specifically, the UEB at the end of 12/13 under the District’s LBFO would be -$20.4M and -$33.3M under MDEA’s LBFO.

District Budget Status

Equally important, under either party’s LBFO, if taxes pass the District’s budget would be ‘Qualified’ as of June 30, 2014, requiring the immediate identification of -$4.8 in cuts making up for the shortfall. If the taxes fail and trigger cuts are implemented, under the District’s LBFO, its budget would be ‘Qualified’ as of June 30, 2014. If the District had accepted MDEA’s LBFO, its budget would be ‘Negative’ in the amount of -$8M by June 30, 2013 and -$33.3M as of June 30, 2014.”

Cooksey said CFO Bryan Richards planned to present six different budget scenarios tonight, showing what would happen if the governor’s proposed taxes fail or pass, and what would happen if the district’s or MDEA’s LBFO were adopted.

The staff report posted Thursday with the agenda for tonight’s board meeting states: “Approval of the District’s Positive Certification is recommended.”

This is based on the first version of the Second Interim Report, which was online this morning: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/caf0a3ba-33f4-40f4-8a04-0f6bda0baa43.pdf.
Since then, Richards has prepared a second version, which projects a Qualified budget: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/f3ab9e1b-6313-45c9-8d6c-b66866f4c858.pdf.

As usual, the district did not clearly identify the fact that attachments have been added since the original agenda was posted. I told Cooksey and Braun-Martin that it would be really helpful to the public if Richards would post his PowerPoint presentation before the meeting, so the public could see it. But, Cooksey said she thought Richards was still working on it.

Since I began typing this, the Powerpoint was posted: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/eb900e3c-59f3-46b5-b081-9f02cd84ea8b.pdf.

Earlier this afternoon, MDEA President Mike Langley called and said the district still hasn’t submitted its declaration of impasse (despite the fact that the district’s March 9 News Update said it would likely be submitted by March 7). Both sides are still trying to hammer out mutually agreeable language so they can submit it jointly.

How do you think the district and teachers’ union should resolve this impasse?

MARCH 13 UPDATE: Here is a link to video of Cooksey’s comments about the impasse: http://qik.com/video/48951519

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  • Theresa Harrington

    Just J: Yes, I do plan to do a story and blog post.
    I also shot video of the awards, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture all of the awards due to technical difficulties.
    You can see what I was able to get at http://www.qik.com/tharrington and http://www.youtube.com/tunedtotheresa.
    One of the most moving awards was a posthumous presentation to the parents of MDHS special ed teacher Johnny Applegate, who died recently due to cancer. His father said he appreciated hearing all the wonderful things his son had done, which he never even knew about.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a US Dept. of Ed. blog post with ideas for keeping great teachers: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/03/e4es-advice-to-schools-to-keep-great-teachers-respect-their-careers/

  • Theresa Harrington

    I just heard from MDEA exec. director Mark York that the district never sunshined the union’s proposal in the latest round of bargaining.
    He said attorney Deb Cooksey told the union: “It was a regrettable oversight.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    Valley View teacher Anita Johnson and Northgate HS teacher Guy Moore are vying to replace retiring Mike Langley as president of the MDEA teachers’ union: http://bit.ly/I3UnJZ

  • g

    Deb Cooksey is a regrettable error. But she has to share the spotlight with lots of folks on that title!