Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco schools union rejects furlough, asks for raises and health benefits increase

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County's school employees union has rejected a proposed one-day furlough estimated to save $2.1 million.

The United School Employees of Pasco not only dismissed that proposed pay cut, but it also asked for a one-time supplement and payment of annual raises based on years of service, as well as an extra $240 per employee toward health insurance benefits. Employees have not received raises or steps since 2007.

The total request, brought to the bargaining table late Wednesday, would add about $7.7 million to the district's budget. USEP president Lynne Webb suggested that the costs could be covered through the recently approved federal education jobs funding bill and savings generated through unfilled positions.

"We think this could be a wash," Webb said.

District employee relations director Kevin Shibley, lead negotiator for the School Board, didn't share that enthusiasm for the employees' economic proposal.

For one thing, Shibley said, the salary step increases would have to be paid annually, yet the money that the USEP is counting on is not a recurring source.

"Once it's gone, it's gone," he said.

That would leave the district with added financial obligations at a time when it already projects a revenue shortfall of $46 million for next year, as other one-time funding sources also dry up.

The district also has to be cautious with the so-called EduJobs money — about $11 million — that is coming in because of comments made by state lawmakers about its use, Shibley said.

Florida Senate Ways and Means Chairman J.D. Alexander recently announced that if districts intend to spend their share of the money this year, they should "reserve or set aside a like amount from other state or local funds to be available for the district in 2011-12." The stated plan is to count the federal money as part of next year's budget, one way or another.

"It has put the district in a very difficult position," Shibley said. "On the one hand, we have the federal guidance, which seems to suggest that the money needs to be spent. On the other hand, we've got the legislators saying to spend the money this year but to set aside a proportional amount. … We have to figure out what we are going to do."

Webb was adamant that the district take a stand against what she viewed as state legislative hijacking of the EduJobs money against the stated goals of Congress.

She noted that the resolution approving the money requires school districts to spend it on salaries and benefits to retain, recall or hire school employees. It specifically bans using the money for general administration costs or reserves. And it further says that states may not use the money, directly or indirectly, to "establish, restore, or supplement a rainy-day fund" or to "supplant state funds in a manner that has the effect of establishing, restoring, or supplementing a rainy-day fund."

"This is a clear example where the district needs to stand up on principle … and make it clear to the legislature they're not going to supplant and do what I call the lottery shell game with the money," Webb said. "The district needs to for once stand up and do what is right for the employees."

She also rejected the arguments that the district should not grant step increases this year because of future financial problems.

"Quite frankly, we negotiate economics every year," she said. "If the district finds they don't have the money, they just need to come to the table. … I am tired of constantly bargaining under the shadow of the grim reaper."

Shibley said he understood the union's frustrations, and that he would seek direction from the School Board and superintendent at an executive session scheduled for Friday morning. He said he would try to schedule the next date for negotiations after that meeting.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at


USEP economic proposal

The United School Employees of Pasco has asked for raises and increased health insurance benefits in its first economic proposal during contract negotiations. The highlights include:

• Annual step increases retroactive to the start of the school year.

• One-time "EduJobs" lump-sum supplement (not a bonus) to be paid before winter break ($500 for teachers, and for SRP: an amount equal to 25 cents per hour times the annual number of hours).

• Fingerprinting retention fees.

• Continuation of Budgetary Committee for the 2010-2011 school year.

• Development of early retirement incentives for the conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year.

• An increase of $240 per eligible employee toward the cost of the health insurance benefit package

Source: United School Employees of Pasco

Pasco schools union rejects furlough, asks for raises and health benefits increase 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.