Confluence Board Ends Teacher Union Negotiations, Implements Salary Increase for GCAA Teachers

On April 13, 2017, the teacher’s union bargaining team for GCAA released a letter that stated that the teacher’s union negotiations had been ended. “Until now, Confluence Charter Schools (the District) has…[refrained] from commenting on the status of bargaining”, states the letter. However, “the District has concluded that negotiations have come to an impasse rather than to an agreement.” The Confluence Board and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) have been working together for a little over a year to come to an agreement about various aspects of the teacher’s union for a little over a year. The sessions began in April of 2016, and included over 6 face-to-face meetings by June of the same year. During that time, over 20 proposals were raised by the AFT, as well as “a small handful of items proposed by GCAA”, says the letter. These meetings resulted in the agreement of a total of 17 or so contract proposals, including things like tenure, contract lengths, and other similar items.

One important meeting occurred on November 14, 2016. In this meeting, the AFT union bargaining team suggested the adoption of a “formal salary schedule” for GCAA. A formal salary schedule entails a set salary for a teacher, mainly based on past experience and schooling. According to the letter released by Confluence, “only 27 GCAA teachers would receive raises” through this proposal. Overall, under this proposal, raises would average about 2.6% across the board. However, this proposal was declined by the GCAA bargaining team. “We explained that we do not agree with the concept of a rigid, formal salary schedule,” says the letter. The GCAA board then proposed an offer which included a uniform raise of 1.5% to all teachers. However, the AFT union rejected this offer. GCAA then issued an alternative offer, which outlined an across-the-board 4% salary increase for all teachers. However, this offer did not include any of the contract items that had been afore agreed to. In January, AFT representatives rejected both of the GCAA bargaining team’s offers.

Negotiations continued from this point, and resulted in no agreement between the AFT and GCAA bargaining team. One of the AFT’s proposals included the adoption of an “aspirational” salary schedule, in which raises would vary by teacher and range from a 1% to a 4% increase. The GCAA bargaining team rejected this proposal, stating that they “do not agree with the Union’s suggestion to adopt and publish even an “aspirational” salary schedule…[it] implies that we intend and plan to achieve the schedule at some time in the future. We do not intend, and will not promise, to do so.” According to the letter, Confluence viewed the Union’s proposal as a suggestion that GCAA should move, in the area of salary, in the direction of a traditional school district.

After the letter was released, an agreement was reached concerning salary raises for teachers. There will be implemented an across-the-board 4% salary increase. “I’m happy that the teachers are able to get this 4% increase”, says Matt Fredrickson, Principal.

“They haven’t decertified the union” says Fredrickson. “They [the board] have to vote…to not have a union anymore.” As of now, negotiations could still potentially be started up again. “If I were teachers, I would hope that maybe there’s an opportunity to come back to the table and continue to work on hammering out some other differences,” says Fredrickson.