LBUSD salary negotiation with classified employees remains stalled, state board to weigh in this month – Signal Tribune
As the Long Beach Unified School District Classified Employees Union (LBUSD) continues to demand higher wages than the district is willing to pay, a state board will meet Feb. 22-23 to make recommendations.
The California School Employees Association (CSEA) and LBUSD have been negotiating a new employment contract since March to replace the one that expired on October 31, 2021. Although the two parties agreed to 20 sections of a new contract, they hit a dead end on salary increases.
The CSEA represents approximately 2,100 of the district’s classified employees, including teacher’s aides, nutrition service workers, bus drivers, custodians and gardeners.
Superintendent Jill Baker said in a Jan. 24 statement that the CSEA had rejected LBUSD’s “competitive proposal” for ongoing, retroactive increases totaling 5% – the identical to the one offered the Long Beach Teachers’ Association (TALB), last April.
LBUSD’s salary proposal consists of a 3% increase, retroactive to the past two school years 2019-20 and 2020-2021, plus additional one-time retroactive increases totaling 2%.
CSEA wants to see what Baker called a “significantly higher increase” of 3% retroactive to the 2019-2020 school year plus 4% retroactive to the 2020-2021 year.
“While the District recognizes CSEA’s significant contributions during these challenging times, the District is unable to accept this offer if we are to remain fiscally responsible,” Baker said.
LBUSD faces budget pressures from rising health care costs, pension contributions and revenue losses due to decline in enrollment, said Boulanger. She added that LBUSD covers employees’ monthly healthcare premiums, unlike most other districts.
“We need a living wage,” Viola Mae Bledsoe, Special Education Teaching Assistant and CSEA member, told the LBUSD Board of Education at its Wednesday, February 2, meeting.
Bledsoe and other CSEA members have been vocal at board meetings over the past few months demanding what they say is a fair cost-of-living adjustment.
At Wednesday’s board meeting, about 50 CSEA members gathered outside the building to cheer on commentators and honk horns at cars in support.
CSEA member Enrique Chavez told the board that LBUSD’s actual raise offer was 3%, with the additional 2% being just a one-time bonus, and therefore not really a 5% raise. %.
“Why do we play math games? ” He asked.
Karen Foote, a special education teacher’s aide, said paying a “living wage” would also attract additional employees the district needs. She further compared the salaries of classified employees to the recent increase approved by Superintendent Baker’s board of directors of approximately $58,000.
“That’s $17,000 more than I make in an entire year,” Foote said.
Baker said LBUSD compensation for CSEA employees ranks among the top five districts in the state, with salaries increasing 21% since 2013.
Unable to agree, LBUSD and CSEA filed a joint petition with the state’s Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) last October to gather facts from both sides and adjudicate.
A three-member PERB panel – with one representative from each party and a mutually agreed chair – was due to meet in January but will now meet later this month, according to Baker.
“The panel will coordinate and review relevant evidence and issue findings and make recommendations,” Baker said, adding that LBUSD and CSEA can continue to negotiate in the interim and try to reach a resolution.