Natomas School Labor Talks Hit Wall

Labor talks hit a wall today when the Natomas Unified School District and California School Employee Association failed to reach an agreement on employee concessions.

District officials have requested an impasse with the Public Employees Relations Board in hopes a state-appointed mediator can move talks forward.

“I am feeling a little sad, a little bit frustrated and a little bit lost,” said Janine Hadrych, a school health aide and union negotiator, at the end of today’s bargaining session.

The daylong session was the second time Natomas officials and union representatives have met since classified employees voted overwhelmingly to reject a tentative contract agreement with the financially troubled school district.

At issue are the number of furlough days classified employees say they are willing to take.

“It is unfortunate that the district feels it is necessary to declare impasse at this point in time,” CSEA Chapter No. 745 president Mike Sanders said. “We feel we are continuing to seek an equitable solution to the budgetary concerns brought by the district.”

“I am feeling a little sad, a little bit frustrated and a little bit lost.” -Classified Employee
After union negotiators signed a tentative agreement in January, they say the proposed number of unpaid furlough days written in contract language increased. The district cites a calculation error and now needs classified employees to take up to 24 unpaid furlough days during the 2011-12 school year to help balance its budget. According to the school district, this number is equivalent to the 7.9 percent pay cut being asked of all employees.

“In negotiations, it’s a give and take,” said union negotiator Karen Whitlock, who works in the district’s technology department. “We are willing to go so far and the other side is not willing to bend.”

The number of furlough days varies per employee, depending on how many days they are contractually obligated to work during the school year. Union members seek the 14 to 20 days previously agreed to, but during the negotiations today Superintendent Bobbie Plough said this number is not enough for the district to achieve fiscal solvency.

“We need 7.9 percent,” she said.

The Public Employees Relations Board will review and then respond to the school district’s impasse request. If the agency finds in favor of the school district and declares impasse, a neutral mediator will be appointed to facilitate talks between the two bargaining teams. If an agreement is still not reached during these talks, the Public Employees Relations Board will proceed to fact-finding, a process which can take several months.

“Our membership is aware of the consequences of not ratifying the tentative agreement for concessions,” Sanders said. The union represents more than 300 workers.

The school district sought impasse with the Natomas teachers in November, but withdrew the request and later reached a one-year agreement with that union. Unrepresented employees have agreed to 7.9 percent concessions in the form of furlough days and pay cuts for two years; teachers have agreed to 7.9 percent concessions in the form of furlough days, increased class sizes and layoffs. Plough said all three groups need to make concessions for two years for the district to avoid bankruptcy and a state takeover.

“What we need to do right now is a lot of work to get somewhere,” said Brent Johnson, a district negotiator and Natomas Park Elementary School principal. “It’s time for us to step up.”

If Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed temporary tax extensions are not put on the June ballot or not approved by voters, K-12 education funding will be cut and all employees will need to take a total of 14 percent in pay cuts for two consecutive years for the district to remain afloat.

“I am hopeful that with the mediator that will give us some assistance we need to come to an agreement,” said Plough as contract negotiations wrapped up for the day. “I remain hopeful for this district. I think people in this district are worth it. We will get through this.”
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7


  1. Anonymous says

    I don’t understand what Brent Johnson means when he says “it’s ‘time’ for us to step up”….the Natomas employees have been stepping up for the past two years! Many have ‘stepped up’ by ‘giving up’ their jobs! Others have ‘stepped up’ by ‘ramping up’ their personal spending in the classroom for our community’s children. All of the remaining employees have ‘stepped up’ by ‘giving up’ portions of their salaries. Most of them have ‘stepped up’ by ‘giving up’ time with families so they can get the addtitional work done that needs to get done. He makes it sound like they haven’t done anything. It’s a slap in the face to all of the employees who have given, and given, and given! In light of the school board’s decision last week to continue to deficit spend (eg the multi-use agreements), on top of a lot of other bad financial decisions they’ve made, it’s time for the Natomas school board to ‘step up’ and STOP deficit spending my tax money!!!

  2. Anonymous says

    I agree with you Anonymous. The Natomas School Board has not learned because the Natomas communitte keep voting them in!!! Wake up people!!! Half the time I don’t believe the Board even knows what the heck they are looking at, they just approve it. I know that for sure happened in many departments with several project items. The work had been ordered, paid for, and completed and the request hadn’t even went to the Board. When it finally did they approved it to “save face” with the contractors out there. What they should have done is voted it down and got rid of the morons that tried to get that by in the first place. The contractors would learn really quick at that point what the process is.

    Management gave themselves three raises before they saw the “train of doom” come down the tracks that no one else saw but them. Their cut of 7.9% doesn’t make a dent when you gave yourselves a raise that was hire than your cut. They are not suffering at all. In fact the Superintendent is bragging about going out to Texas for the “final four”. Gee, I wish I could afford to take a trip to dinner! Or how about make my mortgage…get with three figures it isn’t hard to do that and go on trips.
    We know what you are doing Natomas Management and the people will spread it and it will go viral!
    Shame on you for working people to death and paying them pennies while you laugh it up. You are all pathetic!

  3. Anonymous says

    Thanks Natomas Buzz for publishing the CSEA employees view of this issue.

  4. Anonymous says

    “The district cites a calculation error… Superintendent Bobbie Plough said this number is not enough for the district to achieve fiscal solvency.” Oh really?
    Face it – the district’s finances are not dependent upon employee concessions. That would require the district to stop making daily errors, blunders, and costly mistakes, and even then how could we be sure we were good? Just goes to show you can’t trust what the district leadership is shoveling out. Sadly, this incompetent board and district management is what state receivers were made for.

  5. Anonymous says

    I work for the state. I have been furloughed 3 days a MONTH for the past TWO years = 15% reduction in pay per MONTH. Our union just negotiated the 15% pay cut down to a 8% pay cut for the upcoming year. I support teachers and the CSEA, but you need to know that the parents of your children have been hit just as hard or harder. And the concession requested by the district seem inline with the economic realities that we all are facing.

  6. Anonymous says

    I’m not sure what the employees are holding out for. The district has been clear that 7.9% cuts is what is needed. It sucks, no one wants it. But the reality is that most of the community has taken greater cuts in their own jobs. And you can guarantee that the State would impose much bigger cuts in a takeover.

  7. Anonymous says

    I don’t agree with the last comment. If we had a state loan, $30 million over 20 years is easier to swallow than $10 million over two. We need a state loan for the same reason people need mortgages…we can’t afford to pay for the annual deficits with our revenue. We need a loan to make our payroll, and we need the district to STOP deficit spending. NUSD needs to stop the problem, not just keep covering it up with the bandaid of additional cuts to the classroom and employees.

Speak Your Mind