Pay Freeze Agreement

Important Update: On July 15, Summit announced that “lane changes” will not be part of the pay freeze. You will be appropriately compensated for obtaining a masters or credential. for more details, see here.

On the first day of summer vacation, our CEO announced that compensation for 2020-21 would be frozen to the 2019-20 salary scale.  Our collective work since that day has mitigated some of the immediate harm to our members, prohibited layoffs for this school year, and codified a greater degree of job protection for our members.  This newsletter explains the agreement reached by SPS and Unite Summit.  We address critical information about the agreement in context of the state budget, Summit’s priorities, and teachers’ priorities.  We also ask you to complete a five-minute survey about reopening in the fall.

Priorities in the agreement
In negotiations, our bargaining team prioritized:
1) ensuring teachers would not see an immediate hit to their paycheck and had adequate time to financially prepare for a freeze;
2) creating a mechanism for “unfreezing” pay and
3) prohibiting layoffs and providing greater job security for the upcoming school year.  

We want to make it clear that 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.  Our elected union leadership — site representatives and bargaining team — firmly agree that the agreement we reached around 2020-21 compensation does not adequately compensate and respect our teachers. Instead, we view this agreement as a stepping stone toward winning back our promised pay for this school year.   

Can Summit afford the 2020-21 compensation scale?
We believe that Summit can and should compensate teachers according to the 2020-21 scale.  As we wrote in our update Pay freeze or layoffs — a false choice?, Summit has a healthy reserve, strong connections to some of the wealthiest people in California who are invested in Summit’s model and growth (including SPS Board member Meg Whitman who has a net worth of $5 billion), and is receiving money from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Our organization is fiscally sound and full of creative, innovative leaders; we are convinced that Summit can make a different choice and not balance its budget on the backs of teachers and hourly workers. 

Teachers and hourly workers should be prioritized in the SPS budget, especially in the context of a pandemic.  Hourly workers have the highest amount of physical contact with students and families.  Teachers have never focused on academics alone.  Our teachers chose Summit because we care about holistic, personalized mentoring.  Now, we meet unprecedented challenges as we know we will support children through financial challenges, isolation, illness, and death.  

Budgets are based on the best available information at the time; they are constructed based on educated guesses. However, budgets are not just spreadsheets; they are moral documents that reflect the values of an organization.

Budgets are dependent on an organization making choices; we believe that SPS can make different choices that honor the promise made to teachers in their compensation letters. As Summit prepares to revise its budget this fall — a routine that happens every year — we will be organizing to urge Summit to choose to invest in the people who interact most directly with students. We ask every person in our organization to speak up if you believe that restoring compensation for lower-paid staff is a concrete action for equity and in the best interest of our students.  

Summary of the TA 
Here is a link to our full agreement.  Below is a summary.

Compensation Increases Frozen
— Pay will be frozen at our 19-20 salary with one exception — you will receive the experience stipend you were originally promised for the 2020-21 school year
— You will have the option to get a cash advance to make up the difference between your frozen salary and the pay you were promised in your compensation letter from July-December of this year. That difference will be deducted from your June 2021 paycheck.
— SPS will roll out the process of requesting cash advances.

Restoration of Pay
— Our pay will be restored (with backpay) if two conditions are met.  First, the state does not reduce SPS funding in penalty for taking a Paycheck Protection Program loan ($6.8 million).  Second, Summit receives full funding for this year’s enrollment (the budget passed in July only funds schools for last year’s enrollment).
— Summit has stated that the intention is to restore pay to the 2020-21 salary scale as soon as possible.  Our teachers have consistently said that the compensation freeze damaged their trust in SPS to follow through on commitments.  Following through on providing promised compensation is an opportunity for Summit to restore trust.

Job Security
— There will be no layoffs in the 2020-21 school year.  This is now a legally enforceable commitment from Summit.
— Summit must give advance notice and bargain with our union over any termination during the school year (unless the conduct is egregious, in which case we will not receive advance notice of termination and will bargain after the teacher has been terminated). During the past few months, Summit has started to follow this process for terminations. We believe having this process agreed to, in writing, is an important step forward in supporting students, and providing teachers with job security and stability this school year. 

Reopening Survey 
Please complete this REOPENING SURVEY. This information will determine Unite Summit’s negotiations for re-opening. Your participation will provide us with crucial information as we go into bargaining over reopening next week. We will collect emails so that your site rep can contact you.  However, we will keep your participation and name anonymous. Please reach out to bargaining team members if you have additional thoughts or want to discuss your ideas about reopening.