Friday, December 7, 2007

OAPSE Contract Analysis

I requested and have received a copy of the 2008-2010 Contract with Local #310 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees. This is the union which represents:
  • Transportation workers: Bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and Bus Aides
  • Secretaries
  • Building maintenance workers
  • Custodians
  • Nurse Assistants and Licensed Occupational or Physical Therapy Assistants
  • Various other kinds of assistants
  • Accounting clerks
  • Print shop operators
  • Technicians, including the webmasters, software developers and project managers, systems analysts and database administrators, help desk agents, network techs
These are the sections I found of interest (my comments in italics):
  • 18.01 – The School District pays 100% of the cost of life insurance premiums and dental insurance for fulltime employees. However for hospitalization and major medical insurance, the School District pays 94% in 2008, 92% in 2009, and 90% in 2010. I've not seen prior versions of the OAPSE contract, but I believe that in the past, the School District has paid 100% of the health insurance premiums. This is a major issue in the negotiations with the teachers' union as well.
  • 20.04 – Vacation leave for year-round employees is 2 weeks for 1-6 years to 4 weeks for after 20 years. No more than 10 vacation days can be taken while school is in session. Very reasonable.
  • Article 21 – each employee gets 3 paid personal days each year. Reasonable as well.
  • Article 23 – each employee gets 15 days of sick leave each year. Unused sick leave can be accumulated to a maximum of 255 days. I have never been granted 15 sick days in a year, but my guess is that most employees accumulate the sick days for catastrophic situations. It has the same effect as fully paid short-term disability coverage for 100% of the normal wage. Okay with me.
  • Article 34 – 34.10 and 34.11 prohibit laying off employees and replacing them with subcontractors. I have no issue with this as long as the wages and benefits remain comparable to private industry.
Of course, the meat of the contract is the wage schedules. As is the case with the current agreement with the teachers' union, there is a pay grid for each of the three contract years: 2008, 2009 and 2010. Across the board, the grid for 2009 provides for pay rates 3% higher than 2008, and the 2010 grid is 3% higher than 2009. Unfortunately, this is all the local newspapers will report and, as is the case with the teachers' pay scales, this is only part of the story.
Like the teachers, the OAPSE contract has a length of service component as well. So the change in one individual's pay from year to year is the combination of the lift of the entire pay scale (3% in the case of this contract) AND the length of service increase. The length of service increase is about 1.3% for most OAPSE jobs, and a little more than 2% for IT (information technology) positions.
The combination of these two raise components is 4.25% to 4.5% raises for most OAPSE members, and 5% raises for IT positions.
These numbers sound reasonable to me. But there's a wild card in the deck:
The Board signed a side agreement with OAPSE which says: "… if the Board's eventual agreement with the Hilliard Education Association… results in a higher percentage general increase on base salary…for teachers than the Board's percentage general wage increase appearing in the Board's tentative agreement reached with OAPSE… and/or a lower teacher contribution toward the monthly cost of health and dental insurance … the Board will thereupon offer to OAPSE a percentage general wage increase and monthly employee insurance contributions that match the … HEA agreement…"
In other words, the teachers are now effectively bargaining for themselves and the OAPSE members. No wonder the OAPSE negotiation was completed so quickly. All the OAPSE members have to do is sit back and let the teachers' union (the Hilliard Education Association) do all the hard work.
This side deal also keeps the two unions out of conflict with each other. The HEA members can't accuse the OAPSE members of undercutting them by taking a lesser deal than the teachers wanted.
Is it really all about the kids?


  1. Ha! Once again I learn more from this blog than a year's worth of Northwest News articles.

    The word "teacher" is powerful because no one wants to be against the teachers, just like no one wants to be against "the children". But you can be against "IT staff", so what a sweet deal for those folks. And, like you say, it helps the teachers since they don't undercut each other.

    Whoever said "those who can't, teach" was stupid, because teachers are nobody's fool.

    According to Frederick M. Hess:
    Economist Richard Vedder has observed that the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey shows that teachers earn “more per hour than architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, statisticians, biological and life scientists, atmospheric and space scientists, registered nurses, physical therapists, university-level foreign-language teachers, [and] librarians.”

    Nice gig.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    My primary mission is not to engage in a debate about teacher pay, but rather to ensure that there is full disclosure of the facts.

    From there we can get into discussions about union payscales vs pay-for-performance and all that.

    I once took a course on compensation practices, and the key notion was that the most effective reward systems are those which are individualized. One person might be motivated by money, another by job title, and others by variety. When I was working full time, I felt rewarded by the freedom to jump on a plane and go anywhere in the world where my company did business (now it would be punishment!).

    But individualized reward systems are hard, so in most cases both parties just abstract things down to money. I want more, you want to give me less. Round and round we go.

    That's why I think a mediator could be a good thing in this negotiation. We need to get more things on the table than just money.

  3. We need to get more things on the table than just money.

    Agreed, but good Lord they already get a family-friendly ten weeks off every summer. They average a 36-hour a workweek versus 39 for the average private sector worker. They get all their health care premiums paid. They don't have to travel. It's hard to imagine what else we can give them except more money!

  4. Paul - I would like to know what the Board is going to do with all the money they are saving by having the oapse folks pay for a part of their insurance. And do you know if the administrators pay for any of their insurance or their retirement money?I think it is called strs?

  5. STRS is the State Teachers Retirement System, and is the entity that provides retirement benefits to all who have been teachers at some point in their career. Note that members of STRS do not pay or receive Social Security. STRS is it for them. And like Social Security, they have to deal with the challenge of all the Boomers coming to retirement age over the next decade.

    I don't know what retirement system is used for administrators who have not been teachers. That's a good question, and I'll find the answer.

    As for what the district will do with the money saved by not paying 100% of the health insurance for the OAPSE members - I doubt that the savings from that change offsets the cost of the wage increases the OAPSE members will get. And for all we know, 96% of the 2008 premiums may be more than 100% of the 2007 premiums.

    In other words, I doubt that any money is being saved, however the rate of expense increase may have been diminished.

  6. Unless a person has a personal involvement all of the facts are almost never put out there. In addition to now paying partial insurance premiums for insurance the co-pays rose considerably across the board. I am the spouse of an OAPSE employee. I would be curious to see how many school employees are school district residents. With the possibility of another levy passing in March these increased insurance and health care cost along with higher property taxes more than offset any wage increase. Some windfall.

  7. Anonymous:

    I suspect that there are no winners this time around. The OAPSE members bear greater benefit costs that probably washes out the effects of a pay raise. The insurance companies get more premium income, but are also paying out more as medical costs rise. Providers might collect more in fees, but pay out more in malpractice insurance.

    Maybe the only folks winning in this deal is the lawyers.