Director of Government Reform
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I’ve been bamboozled.
Thats exactly what I thought after I finally got the chance to look at the new teacher contract for my local school district, Aptakisic-Tripp School District 102, this week.
You see, way back on Dec. 17, 2012, the district voted unanimously to approve a new collective bargaining agreement. Two days later the board announced it had reached an agreement with the local teachers union for average salary increases of 3.75 percent for each of three school years starting in 2013-2014.
However, when I finally had the opportunity to examine the contract, I found that many teachers in the district would be receiving annual raises of between 4.5 and 6 percent a year. And that number doesn’t even include lane changes financial incentives that come with increased education levels which will reward teachers with even bigger raises.
Though the board approved the contract on Dec. 17, 2012, the first time the document was made available to the public was Jan. 23, 2013 a 38-day lag time.
Every taxpayer in District 102 should be insulted at the lack of transparency and openness during the collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, negotiation process. Citizens should have the ability to be an integral part of the collective bargaining process; after all, we are the ones paying the bills.
Every time the administration or the union proposes a CBA, the public should be able to examine and openly discuss the merits of the proposal with the administration, elected board and union representation for the teachers.
Even more insulting than the lack of transparency is the districts misleading announcement that the new contract provides average salary increases of 3.75 percent. Apparently, the local providers of public education believe the citizens they serve can’t do math.
I examined three different teacher scenarios to understand the actual salary increases as outlined by the new contract.
Heres what I found:
- A new teacher with one year of experience and a bachelors degree will have an average annual salary increase of 4.54 percent during the course of the new contract; 4.75 on a compounded basis.
- A mid-career teacher with 14 years of experience and a masters degree will have an average annual salary increase of 5.07 percent; 5.34 percent on a compounded basis.
- A teacher retiring in 2015-2016 with 30 years of experience and masters degree plus 30 hours of additional education, will have an average annual salary increase of 6 percent per year, due to a retirement benefit provision in the contract; and 6.37 percent per year on a compounded basis.
District 102’s new contract also provides for a post-retirement award equal to $1,000 for every year of service to the district.
Add a $30,000 post-retirement award to the retiring teacher scenario above and the final year salary is equal to $156,391, an astounding 31.1 percent increase over the previous year. Luckily, this retirement perk is not used in the calculation of an employees pension.
Additionally, the new contract has lots of other perks and benefits in it, including:
- A 182 day work year
- 14 sick days and three personal business leave days
- Maximum sick leave of up to 340 days
- 7 ½ hour teacher work days
- Paid sabbatical leave granted at the discretion of the board
- Health and dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Long-term disability insurance
- Tuition reimbursement
Being a resident, taxpayer and parent of a future student who will most likely go to District 102 schools, I would have loved the opportunity to be an active, educated participant in the collective bargaining negotiating process.
Sadly, this problem isn’t isolated to District 102. This lack of transparency and misleading analysis of contract provisions is a scene being played out time and time again all over the state of Illinois. Statewide reforms are needed to give citizens the opportunity to directly participate in an open, transparent and accurately represented collective bargaining process.
The time for passing a Truth-in-Collective Bargaining Act to address these issues is long overdue.