Merced teachers to vote next week on district’s pay hike offer

02/13/2014 6:03 PM

02/13/2014 6:45 PM

Merced Union High School District employees want a raise, something they haven’t had in seven years.

At Wednesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting in the Merced High School cafeteria, about 100 teachers and classified or non-teaching employees protested inaction in granting increased remuneration. There were no agenda items addressing raise issues.

Willie Wohltman, president of California School Employees Association Chapter No. 252, said that just about every school district in Merced County has come up with something for their employees.

He said the average salary for members of his group, which numbers about 400, is between $27,000 and $30,000 a year. Every year medical premiums go up by $100 a month and most workers are making less than when they were hired.

“They’re upset,” Wohltman said. “The board hasn’t made up its mind what’s going on.”

Trustee Will Snyder III has mixed feelings about the wage situation.

“The employees are upset, very angry,” Snyder said. “There are a lot of problems and it concerns me a lot. I’m concerned about employees’ morale and happiness.”

Snyder said he has been told a school district customarily spends about 82 to 85 percent of its budget on salaries. The latest offer, he added, may bring the district up to 90 percent in what’s paid to workers, and he doesn’t want to put the district in jeopardy.

Trustee Ida Johnson said the board wants to give employees a raise and understands what they are going through.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Johnson said. “The money is just coming in and we’re just getting word about it. We need to see what the Local Control Funding Formula is giving us and how to spend it. We will try to iron it out and give something retroactively.”

Leonard Kahn, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district has offered members of the District Teachers Association a one-time 5 percent bonus and a 2 percent adjustment on the 2014-2015 salary schedule.

Blaine Barrick, DTA president, said his 470 members will likely vote on the contract offer in the next week or two. He said his first order of business is giving a presentation to DTA members on what the contract offer entails.

Barrick said DTA leadership will recommend ratification of the agreement.

Barrick thanked the union’s negotiations team for its efforts in getting the best deal possible. He said salary negotiations for the 2014-2015 school year probably will begin April 1.

Superintendent Scott Scambray said there’s nothing but good news in future state funding for the district and he thinks everybody will be pleased. He expects to have concrete budget figures when the board adopts its second interim budget next month.

Stacy McAfee, the new assistant superintendent for human resources, said another negotiation session will be held with CSEA members. Shortly, the district will begin salary negotiations with DTA representatives for the 2014-2015 school year.

Trustee Dora Crane said the CSEA has not had an opportunity to negotiate with the district. A previous session was canceled when a negotiator could not make the meeting.

Crane said she is hopeful the district will be able to negotiate in good faith with CSEA representatives.

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