November 3, 2009

Chariho Teachers Approve Contract: Stepping Away from Steps?

Marc Comtois

As the ProJo reports, the Chariho teachers have approved a new contract (PDF) that includes nearly the complete eradication of the traditional increases (go "here" to see what I mean by "traditional") in the hard-coded contract step increases. This is what the Chariho contract looks like:


Usually, a step contract would have something like a 2.5% annual salary increase for each pay step. Not here. This time the teachers' union and district agreed on a step schedule that remained constant over three years for steps 1-8, decreased for steps 9 and 10, fluctuated for step 11 and (apparently) added a new step 12 in 2010-11.

As I've shown by including the "Yr X Raise" column, that doesn't mean that teachers aren't getting a raise every year, it just means the usual increase in pay that comes via a step increase isn't being further compounded by a raise on each step, too. As an example, I've highlighted (in blue/green/red) what the "real world" salary increases would be for a new teacher as they progress to 2011-12 under this contract. Being guaranteed over a 6% increase per year still ain't a bad deal.

Whether or not we agree with the amount of increases from step to step, it is significant that there is no raise being applied from year to year for each step. Whether or not this will inspire--or embolden--other districts to follow suit will be interesting to see.

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Really all this did was lower the raise amount from an average of 10% a year to about 6% a year. Yay. Teachers are getting a 6% raise each year.

Hey, why not tie in the annual raises to the economy or something, with a ceiling and a floor. Let's say 0-4%. The worst the teachers can do is get nothing, we wouldn't decrease their salary, and the best they can do in a great economy is 4%. Anyone going to complain about getting a 4% raise? Heck, I'd love to have a 0.25% raise this year.

Again, I can't blame the teachers for this, all they're doing is taking what is being given to them. If we don't like the teacher contracts, blame the School Committee. They agreed to it.

Posted by: Patrick at November 3, 2009 10:30 AM

Not sure if this is an error in your shading, but how would a teacher go from step 1 to step 5 in 3 years?

Posted by: Donald Botts at November 3, 2009 10:50 AM

Nice to see teachers being guaranteed 6-percent raises in the greatest economic downturn since The Great Depression. At least we're all sharing the pain, right?

Posted by: Robespierre at November 3, 2009 10:56 AM

Thanks Don, error in shading has been fixed. Sorry about that!

Posted by: Marc at November 3, 2009 11:13 AM

There is a simple every teacher step ten and then eliminate steps. Step 10 is the "market rate." For the first 9 years of their career they are paid below market rate.

Steps were introduced by the Boss to lower, not increase, costs. They save districts money because you replace a retiring teacher at step ten with a newer teacher at step 1 or 2.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at November 3, 2009 5:10 PM

Heh, the seagull strikes again.

How about we just start all teachers at what the average person with only a bachelor's degree and no experience starts with and then give a reasonable raise compared to what most other people make. Why should anyone get a 6% raise in the middle of a recession?

Posted by: Patrick at November 3, 2009 9:51 PM

Reading one of the local chariho blogs, about 75% of the teachers are top step currently. What this contract does is affect the younger teachers compared to the previous contract (the ones who usually get the step+COLA 10% raises) and creates two new steps so that the 75% of 10th step teachers on the previous contract get their typical raise. Saves money overall, without any real sacrifice on anybody's part.

Health insurance premium co-payments, by contract end will be 16% for all -- still less than federal employees pay, but an increase over previous contracts.

Overall, a small improvement. There is a small pool of money included for "merit pay" allocations in years two and three which may prove to be a good thing over time, and may make up for the smaller raises for some younger teachers.

Posted by: davidc at November 3, 2009 10:07 PM

Pat Crowley is such a comedian! Using the term "market rate" in describing not just unionized employees, but unionized public sector employees, is so oxymoronic he just knew that we'd all bust out laughing when we read his post.

Thanks Pat, we all needed a good laugh.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at November 3, 2009 10:22 PM

"and may make up for the smaller raises for some younger teachers."

DavidC, where are those "smaller raises" for the "younger teachers"? Which step is that? Do you mean that 6.2% raise? Because it's smaller than 6.3 or 6.5?

Posted by: Patrick at November 4, 2009 7:48 AM
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