Teachers are calling on the Kenosha Unified School Board and the district administration to collectively bargain a contract with a full cost of living increase of 2.44 percent, along with a $1,500 stipend for all active employees for use in contributing to health savings accounts and anticipated higher out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles for health insurance.
A petition, which began circulating late last month, also states that should such negotiations not progress, teachers would be working to contract, according to an online posting onactionnetwork.org. According to Erin Lampada, a Tremper High School speech language pathologist who spoke before the School Board on Monday night, the district and the KEA are expected to initiate negotiations for wages for the 2019-2020 school year on May 9.
During public comments, she said most staff members have been dissatisfied with the board’s decision to switch from WEA Trust to United Health Care. According to Lampada, the results of a teacher’s union sent to one of the high schools revealed nearly 50 percent are seeking employment elsewhere due to “poor compensation and benefits, workload and lack of prep time and overall feelings of not feeling valued.”
She did not specify the high school.
“I have spoken to several individuals who have already submitted their intent to resign or are giving serious thought to leaving the district,” said Lampada, who added she will be among the educators resigning at the end of the year.
“Educators have reached a point where there is very little left they are willing to tolerate, and there is motivation to ensure they have some incentive to stay in the district,” she added, alluding to the petition.
“This petition is a way to ensure that the board and the district leadership are committed to providing a full, cost-of-living increase to all staff, that you will make a concerted effort to help mitigate some of the significant out-of-pocket costs many will experience and that the current teaching and learning conditions in our schools will be improved to ensure the success of all our students.”
Under the current health provider contract, which expires in June, Unified’s premiums are just over $60.1 million and were projected to increase to more than $70.4 million upon renewal. The district’s total contribution amounts to $50.5 million toward premiums, with employees paying a total of $9.6 million under WEA Trust, according to consultant analysis.
Under the UHC Wisconsin Filed plan voted on by the board in March, total annual premiums would amount to just under $41.8 million, with an estimated district contribution of $37.2 million and total employee contributions at just under $4.6 million. The district looks to save more than $18.3 million, or 30.6 percent, on health care costs.
Tanya Ruder, the district’s spokeswoman, said the district initiated the negotiations process on March 28 with the KEA and advised the union that it intends to offer the maximum base wage permitted under law “i.e., a 2.44 percent base wage increase across the board for all full-time equivalent employees.”
“On April 2, the KEA confirmed (its) ability to participate in negotiations, and the district looks forward to negotiating in good faith with them on May 9,” Ruder said.
Following the meeting, School Board President Dan Wade said he knows teachers aren’t happy with the board decision.
“I know they are not happy with insurance because they wanted WEA Trust, but (WEA Trust) did come in at the highest bid,” Wade said. “We have a responsibility to the taxpayers as well, and we did get a lot of savings.
“I can say that there’s a strong possibility that will be returned to the employees in the form of raises.”
Please contact the Kenosha School Board Members and tell them to fairly compensate our teachers with these savings:
To reach Dr. Sue Savaglio (Superintendent of Schools): firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: "Teachers call for full cost of living increase as negotiations with district begins next month,” by Terry Flores, kenoshanews.com