Earlier this month, our union agreed to a pay freeze for teachers in order to avoid the threatened layoff of 21 teachers. Thanks to community pressure, part of that pay has already been restored: teachers will now receive the pay they were promised for obtaining higher credentials (such as a Masters Degree) and will also receive their expected Summit experience stipends. We are continuing to fight for full restoration of teacher pay.
As we stated repeatedly, we believe that Summit could have made a different choice and not balanced the budget on the backs of teachers and hourly workers — especially since, for example, Summit’s CEO makes $450,000 a year and the organization hired an “Entrepreneur in Residence” in the middle of a pandemic for a salary of $400,000 a year.
We bargained under duress. The decision to announce a pay freeze and the threat that unless we agreed to pay freezes, 21 of our colleagues would be laid off by July 10, was not bargaining in good faith.
Unfortunately, it seems that Summit is choosing to continue the pattern of bad-faith bargaining. During our negotiations around school reopening this week, Summit put forth one narrow proposal that would change the middle school schedule, but repeatedly stated that because they are basically following the same virtual school plan from Spring 2020, they may legally reopen without negotiating any further.
What is especially disappointing about Summit’s behavior is that we are actually quite close to an agreement. The major sticking point is that our members have made clear that limiting meeting times and stopping the work day at 4pm is a priority.
Teachers are taking a significant cut to their expected pay — many need to make up for that lost income by working second jobs, which makes the hard stop at 4pm important. Additionally, a hard stop at 4pm and the reduction of meeting time by 90 minutes a week would increase prep time, allow teachers to care for families, and reduce negative impacts of screen time.
Our ask for a limit on meeting times and a 4pm end to the work day is a reasonable and simple ask. We are unclear why Summit is not willing to put their verbal promises into a written proposal and why Summit is unwilling to agree to a reasonable amount of meeting time, especially given that our teachers have taken a pay freeze.
Our union will continue to advocate for what we need in order to teach well and live decently. If SPS refuses to comply with the law and negotiate on mandatory topics of bargaining, then we will take action through the Public Education Relations Board