Pasco employees, district agree to delay step increases
Citing too many unanswered questions about the district's finances, the United School Employees of Pasco has agreed to the school district administration's request to postpone payment of workers' step increases for years of service. But the association insisted on bringing the issue back to the table no later than Aug. 10.
"We'd like to at least have some conversations before everybody goes back to school," USEP negotiator Jim Ciadella told his district counterpart during negotiations this afternoon.
Without action, the steps would have taken effect with the start of the new fiscal year tomorrow (July 1).
USEP president Lynne Webb said she had fielded many phone calls from workers worried that they cannot afford a second straight year without steps, not to mention raises. Yet she explained that it did not seem prudent to the bargaining team to make proposals that might not be able to be paid for.
"We want to give ourselves time so our conversations will be more meaningful," Webb told the Gradebook.
During the time the steps remain off the table, the USEP plans to investigate how the district will use its federal stimulus funding. It also will explore the School Board's plans regarding a possible local tax increase of 0.25 mills, which the union supports.
Kevin Shibley, the district's lead negotiator, accepted the USEP's suggested date to resume conversations about the steps.
"We think it's even more rigid than what we put on the table," he said. "We're okay with that."
Jeff Solochek, Times Staff Writer