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Dublin Teachers Association and DUSD Strive to Find Common Ground

March 26, 2013

Negotiate (vb): to confer with another so as with some matter or to arrive at the settlement of some matter. – Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary

Dublin Teachers Association Public Outreach Demonstration 1On Friday, March 15 a number of teachers from across the district and from each of the ten school sites elected to participate in a “public outreach demonstration” on the sidewalks of their respective schools. It was a coordinated event. Among their goals was to publicize the fact that Certificated Staff in the district have not received a compensation enhancement since 2007. Many parents at drop-off witnessed signs, balloons and may have received leaflets promoting the stance by the Dublin Teachers Association (DTA). Because this type of demonstration has been a relatively rare activity in Dublin, decided to take a closer look. As with any examination of a contention between management and labor, it is frequently a multi-layered topic.

At the heart of the matter is the contention from DTA that a salary increase has not been granted since 2007. Additionally, costs for healthcare have been escalating at a rapid rate in the last five years. As a public enterprise, the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) is at the mercy of public funding from the State of California – funding that has diminished every year since 2008 and coinciding with the economic downturn that has plagued the state for several years.

To maintain objectivity on this issue, chose to hear both sides of this matter. We reached out to DTA Co-President Robbie Kreitz and to DUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Val Williams. Both individuals agreed to be interviewed for this profile.

Let us first review the facts: According the Society for Human Resource Management, costs for all types of medical plans in the U.S. were expected to increase by 9.9% for 2012. Further, CalPERS, the largest provider to pension/healthcare to California public employees is currently embroiled in a large scandal which involves pension fund investments. With the continuing economic downturn and the uncertainty of the CalPERS situation, it is deriving a perfect recipe for potential conflict.

The public demonstrations for public support carried the full range. Some staff members were satisfied to passively wave signs at their site. Others were more active in their activism – handing out flyers and engaging with parents/guardians. And others made the decision to not actively participate in any way. reached out to DTA Co-President Robbie Krieitz and to DUSD Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources Valerie Williams to gain better understand the current situation. At its heart, what was the purpose of organizing a public demonstration? 

Dublin Teachers Association Co-President Robbie Krieitz

Robbie Kreitz: “Several reasons. Our primary position was two-fold. Certificated staff and Specialists have not received a compensation increase since 2007. COLA increases have been disbanded in the state of California for years. Further, our last successor agreement agreed that we would take on additional collaboration days – from ten to sixteen. This would be accomplished by taking on an additional time into the instructional day.” So why was the “physical” demonstration become necessary as part of your bargaining stance?

Kreitz: “It was a long time coming. We didn’t decide to do this after we had exhausted many months of working diligently with the district staff in terms of what our shareholders were seeking. We had seen a 1.5% pay increase to all members of DUSD staff in 2012 – but we did not feel that this was equitable for the Certificated members – given the added time that was required by our membership.” Would it be accurate to portray that certificated staff were continuing to receive step/column advances despite the district’s position?

Kreitz: “Yes and no. Step and column advances are being honored based upon the existing agreement. Advanced credits earned are being recognized. However, without the enrichment of COLA, step increases are essentially frozen. Combined with the increased cost in health benefits, the net equates to a loss in pay.” Ultimately, what is your goal on behalf of your membership? 

Kreitz: “We recognize that this as a process. At the same time, we think that “It is time” for our membership. We realize that we are a growing district. But for our membership to stand out on the streets is a bit unusual. We also realize that we are at the mercy of the Governor’s budget. But, if we at least start the dialogue with the district, this is a productive usage of our time. At the same time, we want to keep the dialogue open with both the district and the community on this issue.”

In order to be equitable on this subject, we extended an invitation to the DUSD staff to comment. Valerie Williams accepted our invitation. As the lead negotiator to a potential amendment, there was a limit to her comments. However, it was very enlightening to understand what is in play. Can you help us understand why this issue is coming up and what is the status of the current labor agreement with DTA?

Dublin Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Valerie Williams

Val Williams: “We have an existing agreement in place which was ratified for the 2012/13 school year. It is a three year agreement. However, both parties have an option to have a ‘sunshine’ contingency to open up discussions within the agreement in the second and third years. These are ‘reopeners’ but are not mandated. Both parties can offer up their items for discussion. For DTA, they produced Calendar and Compensation. For DUSD, we offered up Compensation, Calendar and Work Day.” One of the primary contentions raised by DTA is the ever-increasing rise in health care costs – one that has not been addressed in COLA or any other salary increase. What’s your response?

Williams: “We get it. We know it. The cost of healthcare has been increasing steadily across all industries – not just the teaching profession. Historically, we have provided our employees options under the CalPERS umbrella. While it has suited us for many years, the premiums and co-pays have steadily risen. I have been actively researching outside alternatives – perhaps those that exist in bundled circumstances that would provide us with a strategic advantage for our membership and in surround districts.” There are many unknowns due to the uncertainty of state funding. Is there anything else that you can volunteer at this stage of the negotiations?

Williams: “Exactly right. We have no idea what the ‘weighted formula’ could look like for our district. There is vast uncertainty on the state budget and what a May revise may or may not look like. As a district, we have been fortunate not to have experienced any layoffs – we are a growing district. Furthermore, we were able to hire 55 additional staff members in the last year – specifically tied to this growth.

I have great admiration for the work of all of staff members. We strive to hire the best.”

Readers, understand that you may witness further public demonstrations in the next few months. It was our goal to help you understand the position on both sides of the path as our district continues to grow and prosper. At the same time, there are growing pains to mend.

Dublin Teachers Association Public Outreach Demonstration

Dublin Teachers Association Public Outreach Demonstration

Dublin Teachers Association Public Outreach Demonstration

Dublin Teachers Association Public Outreach Demonstration

One Comment
  1. December 23, 2015 2:30 am

    The reading went well but the accoitsus in City Hall were bizarre. I couldn’t hear the audience or myself, all I could hear was the event that was on on the other side of the atrium at the same time!It was lovely to meet and re-meet my fellow readers; all very nice people as well as super poets.I hope you got great work done at the TGC.

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