Pasco teachers ask for 3 percent plus steps
Negotiators for Pasco's 4,000 teachers say they've looked at the district's financial picture and think that, with some readjustments to spending priorities, they could get their annual step raises that come with an extra year of service plus a 3 percent pay increase.
Combined, the proposal would cost $11.27-million.
"We believe there's a way to find the dollars to do this," lead teacher negotiator Jim Ciadella told district representatives.
Ciadella suggested that the district should tap into its reserves, noting that USF leaders have announced they will do that to give pay raises. He also noted that the district's proposal to adopt self-insured health and pharmacy benefits will cost only about 4 percent more than last year - that's half the amount set aside in the budget.
"You would hope the dollars saved from that difference would be earmarked for employee salaries," he said.
Lead district negotiator Terry Rhum said the board and administration have given good raises in the past and want to continue to do so. But, he added, the budget took a $7-million cut last year and faces further reductions this year of nearly $20-million.
"Certainly the employees are a priority. But our revenues have to match our liabilities," he said. "Where that comes together that will be what we can do with wages. We'll eventually figure it out."
He told the union not to expect a response before Sept. 16.
UPDATE: The union also asked for step increases and raises for non-instructional staff. Those would total $2.5-million more.
"We're not asking for a lot. We're asking for what they need to survive," negotiator Robert Benjamin said.