Friday is pay day for Medford School District teachers and it's also the end of the 30-day cooling-off period that came after the district called an impasse on contact negotiations. That means, the implemented contract the school board voted through last week will go into effect.
Retroactive Pay for Teachers
The district said teachers should be getting retroactive pay of between $400-$600. Those checks are scheduled to go out on Monday. The money reflects the terms in the district's newly implemented contract.
"We believe in every case, people are getting paid more than when we started this process," said Dr. Phil Long, Superintendent of the Medford School District.
MEA Says Some Teachers Getting Paid Less
Medford Education Association President, Cheryl Lashley is disputing the district's claim and says teachers aren't happy.
"I've heard from teachers who are actually getting less in their paycheck," she began.
"I've heard 13-cents less all the way up to $100 more so that's a huge range," said Lashley.
Dr. Long acknowledges that the six added school days in the contract could change the amount teachers see on their paychecks.
"It depends on how you frame it," said Long.
But Lashley remains grounded in her belief that teachers are getting the short end of the stick.
"What it all boils down to is we are being paid less," she said.
Wording a Concern in Implemented Contract
Perhaps just as much of a concern for teachers, is the wording in the implemented contract.
"There is language that teachers can be removed [...] removing them from a position for virtually no reason at all," said Lashley.
However, Dr. Long said teachers are still protected under Oregon law.
"Teachers actually have statutory protections beyond the contract and for any contract teacher, there is a really extensive process that protects them," he said.
"You get sued when you dismiss a contract teacher who have those protections."
Teachers have also said they're concerned with the wording in the contract as it pertains to things like teacher prep time.
"They can restrict what goes on within our planning time," Lashley said.
As for the rumors floating around that there's language in the contract preventing teachers from striking in the future...
"The right to strike is actually a state law," began Lashley.
"It was a collective bargaining law, they cannot take that right away from us."
Could Contract Have Far-Reaching Effects?
Lashley said she's mainly concerned about how the district's contract decisions will affect how many new teachers deciding to stay and teach in Medford.
"The proposal that they're trying to shove down our throats is not one that's going to make new upcoming teachers want to come here," she said.
The district says they're willing to work on wording, but teachers with the MEA say they won't be pushed around.
"The more the district pushes impasse, implementation, those things on us, the closer we are to a strike," said Lashley.
Teachers will have to vote on whether or not to strike sometime after the first of the year, potentially making this holiday break a bit more stressful.
Implemented Contract Details
The contract increases class time for elementary up to high school, includes a 12-percent pay increase with cost of living raises over the next three years.
"It also continues the 3-4% experience step. This contract caps insurance at $12,600 a year. It also shifts employees 6% PERS costs back to teachers. 10% of the living increase is the first year. The district will continue to pay 19% of PERS that the employer is responsible for," said School Board member Larry Nicholson as he clarified the terms of the contract at last week's board meeting.
While the contract has been implemented by the Medford School District, it still has yet to be ratified. To be ratified, both parties would have to agree to the contract's terms. The district has said they will not budge on the financial piece, but are willing to make changes to wording in order to get the contract ratified. As it stands, Lashley said she doesn't believe teachers will vote to accept the contract.
For More Information:
Side-by-side comparison of current final offers put out by both parties: http://www.medford.k12.or.us/files/Side-by-side_Comparison_Final_Offers_12-%2013-13.pdf
Breakdown of salary and total compensation increases under the new salary schedule: http://www.medford.k12.or.us/SIB/files/549C%20Avg%20Cost%20of%20a%20Teaching%20Position-Final%20Offer%2011-19-13.pdf
You can also visit the Medford School District's website and click on "Subscribe for E-mail Updates" for more information.
For updates on what the Medford Education Association is doing, visit their Facebook page by searching "Medford Education Association."