CSEA and the District have met for the 2019-2020 negotiations twice (May 28th and June 5th) since our last update. At this time the parties have reached agreements on all articles except for Article 18 Wages. On May 28th, the District proposed five (5) furlough days for the upcoming fiscal/school year, with contingency language for the potential of more. These possible furloughs are a result of the bleak 2020-2021 Governor’s May Revised Budget which forecasts a $15.1 billion budget shortfall for K-12 education and which the District estimated would translate to the loss of $24 million locally. CSEA did not sign any agreement in relation to furlough days as we felt the District’s proposal was premature. The pandemic has resulted in tax revenues deferred, and not coming in until mid-July, and the State Legislature still hadn’t approved the proposed dismal education budget. At the May 28th bargaining session, CSEA had asked the District to explore alternatives to salary or job cuts prior to proposing furloughs in order to try and yield savings while taking less drastic measures. As such, CSEA proposed a retirement incentive to the District which was accompanied with a commitment to not fill certain positions that would be vacated as a result of retirement, and to freeze the hiring of certain vacancies deemed nonessential. CSEA felt the proposal could result in cost savings for the District and could potentially avoid our members being impacted negatively as a result of budget cuts. The May 28th bargaining session ended with CSEA expressing its frustration with the District over the length of time negotiations has taken and the lack of a unit-wide salary increase or bonus being offered by the District.
On June 5th, the parties discussed CSEA’s proposal for a retirement incentive which the District dismissed as too costly. The District again failed to propose a unit-wide salary increase or bonus at this bargaining session. The District had explained that while it understood that CSEA didn’t want to agree to furlough days for 2020-2021 in the midst of negotiating our 2019-2020 contract, CSEA would need to accept some equity language agreeing to take the same percentage of cuts the other employee groups (Management and the Certificated bargaining unit) have already accepted in the way of furlough days for next year. CSEA explained to the District that since the State Legislature had recently rejected the Governor’s proposed cuts to K-12 education and proposed to balance the budget for next year, it was impossible for CSEA to agree to accept this equity language since the furlough agreements the other groups signed mandate five (5) furlough days regardless of if the budget is balanced or drastically improves from the Governor’s proposed May Revised Budget. CSEA also explained that should the Governor accept the State Legislature’s revisions to his budget and/or negotiate with the State Legislature to drastically improve the funding for 2020-2021 K-12 education, CSEA would like to have conversations about a unit-wide salary increase or one-time bonus for the current year. The District stated they understood and the parties agreed to meet again after June 15th, as the State Legislature is constitutionally mandated to adopt a budget by this date. We will have another update after our next bargaining session.
For now, it should be clear that CSEA has not signed any agreement as it pertains to furlough days.
CSEA Chapter 293 President