Saturday, July 19, 2008

HEA Contract Changes

I've made an eyeball comparison between the 2005-2007 HEA contract, and the one just signed.

During the negotiations process, statements were made that the agreement proposed by the Board had substantial changes outside the realm of compensation and benefits. If that were the case, they didn't make it to the final agreement as all the material changes appeared to be about money.

A better set of eyes may detect things I missed, but here's what I found:

  • Article 7, Paragraph A, item 1 (which I will signify as "7/A/1" in the rest of this post): adds one day to the working year, from 183 to 184 for returning teachers and 184 to 185 for new teachers
  • 7/B: Preschool teachers included in the definition of "Teacher Work Day"
  • 9/B:
    Unpaid holidays tweaked so that Thanksgiving is always a 5-day weekend (Weds-Sun); Spring Break decoupled from the OSU schedule
  • 9/C:
    A number of changes to Professional Development Days, but nothing of significance that I could see
  • 12/D/5:
    The definition of "building" expanded (via Appendix K) to include facilities like Sunrise Academy and St Brenden's, where apparently HCSD employees must be posted to provide some services.
  • 13/A/4:
    removed the restriction that no more than 5 union members could inspect their personnel files in one day
  • 13/A/6:
    requires union members to acknowledge, by signature, of receipt of disciplinary communications
  • 13/C:
    adds section on "Conduct Unbecoming"
  • 14/A/8:
    any changes to the evaluation procedure must now be agreed upon by Board and union
  • 16:
    Reduction in Force (Layoff) process: definition of seniority moved to new Article 40
  • 16/B/7:
    If a member has been laid off, and a position comes open, and the member is given an offer for reinstatement, the member has until the end of the following business day to accept the offer. In the old contract, the member had three weeks to accept.
  • 28 is the Article about insurance – the center of all the controversy:
  • 28/B/1: for the remainder of 2008, a fulltime member pays 6% of the premium, not to exceed $24.44/mo (single) or $65.99/mo (family); 2009 – 8% to a max of $36.17/mo (single) or $97.67/mo (family); 2010 – 10% to a max of $50.19/mo (single) or $135.52/mo (family).
  • 28/H:
    Provides for stoploss coverage of $2,500 (single) and $4,000 (family). This serves as an overall cap, regardless of the coverage in the group policy. This can be particularly significant in the rare occasions when an individual consumes their maximum lifetime benefit, in which case, the District essentially agrees to provide coverage anyway. The more likely application would be if the District purchases a group health insurance policy that has deductibles higher than these limits. Again the District would assume the risk.
  • 29:
    Salaries go up 3%/yr, with no change to the 4.15% step structure
  • 34:
    Tutors get a 3%/yr increase as well
  • 40:
    Is the new article describing seniority rules. They don't seem that different than the rules that were in Article 16 of the previous contract, but they specify that tutors are on a separate seniority schedule than everyone else. I suspect this provision was put in to prevent senior tutors from being able to bump junior teachers, but would appreciate any insights.
That's it. Seems like it was all about raises and insurance.


  1. I'm not sure that it is a major surprise, since the negotiations seemed to get stuck on contributions to medical insurance.

  2. If the max out-of pocket for family medical coverage in the "worst" year of the contract is only $135, I still think every Hilliard teacher should be thankful beyond words they have such a great plan. I pay nearly twice that for my medical coverage (not including dental) and am also in a professional job.

    I understand thing like this change slowly over time, but frankly am frustrated with such premium benefit and pay/step packages compared to what my neighbors and I deal with. November will be an interesting month.

  3. Wow, so given the history of the contract without the medical update this time, it is obvious we have a spending problem in conjunction with a state revenue problem

    There is also the issue in respecting the parents and electorate that the HEA and the district needs to get up to speed with quickly. In the last negotiation the parents and students got caught in the middle
    and I have yet to hear the district or the HEA address satisfactorily
    a good answer, besides excuses

    Fees will increase, so there is allready more money being given tothe system. Layoffs if the levy does not pass, are the sole responsibility of the HEA and the admin as they could have been avoided. It would have taken less compensation increases, but why did anyone approve of a contract we dont have money for ?

    I would suggest 4 mills for 3 years and nothing more, with more adjustments to the compensation costs. We can make it, it is just
    the powers to be dont want to and the HEA expects the taxpayer to
    give them a blank check every 3 years.

    Many taxpayers will have to cut back to afford an increase in their tax base. Obviously, the district has their spending priorities in
    the wrong

    I am glad last anon 3:18 noted
    the real costs everyone has been exposed to for some time !
    Perhaps the district and the HEA will take a look.

  4. OK... That's $135/month. I thought at first you were saying it was $135/year.

  5. If the only significant differences were the raises and medical premiums, I don't understand the point of several teacher comments before the contract was signed. As I recall, they insisted it was not about money or insurance premiums, it was about other non-tangibles, which I thought they were alluding to time off and lunch periods. I hope some of them will re-visit the blog and elaborate. I agree with a another commenter that anyone who still thinks it's about the children is kidding themselves. As always, nice work Paul. Hard to know where this is all going to go, but you have become a tremendous resource for finding out the truth. Thank you. I hope the word is getting out and site traffic is up.

  6. Sorry, but I'm horrified that this is what all the fuss has been about. Teachers will still only have to pay a fraction that I pay for insurance, and they still get their raises every year.

    I'm offended that programs for the kids are being cut, while anyone gets a raise. That is just shameful!

    I'm voting NO in November!

  7. The unfortunate thing is that if the levy goes down, Hilliard CSD will be well on its way to becoming the next South-Western CSD, except with nicer facilities.

    For many, it will be time to consider other options among them being: 1) move and most likely sell a house for less than it was purchased; 2) send the kids to private or charter schools; 3) home-school.

  8. ANON 10;40
    While no one wants to go backward, it is apparent, we also have a spending issue that has to be addressed. The first step to economic stablity is to hold the line on your biggest line item
    That would be compensation cost and benefits. Saving 50,000 on Camp Joy is admirable, however we just witnessed an event in negotiaions that when now revealed shows how out of touch our district is with what private sector employees are dealing with.

  9. Paul,
    I was wondering if you or perhaps one of the other readers could explain some of the contract that doesn't make sense to me.

    First is Article 32 - Board Pickup of Employee contributions to STRS. I'm not sure what this is?

    Thanks for helping to decipher the contract for us.

  10. Paul,

    I think what a lot of people are not understanding and maybe even yourself is that the contract you are seeing is what was voted on and approved narrowly. A lot of things that were contested were not included in the new contract because that is what the members were so upset about. So technically you are not seeing what was negotiated on you are seeing what the end result is. It was not all about money and insurance (although for many that is what it was all about). That would be why it passed with such a narrow margin. What members seem to be upset about is the fact that we went from paying $0 to 6%, 8%, and 10%. I understand that the residents of Hilliard are paying more. I feel that this is the first step in getting us going. It will most likely continue to go up with every contract. I don't know. I know it is a touchy situation for everyone and I am nervous for November. I don't think I have to worry for my job, but I worry about the education my young children will get if 130+ jobs are cut.

  11. Thanks for the "insider's" perspective. You're right, we don't get to see the intermediate versions that were offered during the negotiation. I hope at some point, we'll be told what those issues were. The secrecy is not helping anyone.

    And I think you may be low on the number of people that would need to be laid off if the levy fails in both November and March (yes, it will mostly definitely be on the March ballot again if it doesn't pass in November). One consequence of the seniority system is that the 'cheapest' teachers get laid off first, meaning that it will take a lot of them to reach the target cutback number.

    This is where I don't understand the whole notion of professional unions. In the end, the union doesn't protect the best professionals, only the ones with the most service time. We'll dump some very good young and promising teachers in a layoff, and keep some duds who: a) get paid a lot; and, b) should have found another line of work years ago.

    And the union leadership won't admit to an ounce of the blame for this situation. They'll say the Administrators, the Board and the people of the community all failed the teachers. The HEA leadership most definitely played a part in this drama.

    I wonder what lessons our kids will learn from all of this...

  12. On the question about Article 32, the STRS (State Teachers Retirement System) Pickup clause, this is what I think it means (lawyers welcome to chime in):

    Let's say that from the salary table, a teacher is to be paid $50,000 per year. Some fraction of that is paid to STRS to fund the teacher's retirement. The Board makes a matching contribution. It's very much like a private version of Social Security, in which the HEA members don't participate (nor will they receive Social Security benefits).

    Let's say the member's contribution is 10% of the annual salary, making it $5,000 in this example.

    For purposes of Federal Income Tax (which also means Ohio State Tax), this member's W-2 would say that gross wages are $45,000. In other words, the retirement contribution is tax free. However, for local income tax, the full $50,000 would be shown on the W-2.

    The last provision of this article is to ensure that the full salary - $50,000 in this case - is used to calculate other salary-related benefits. I suspect that might mean for things like supplemental pay (e.g. serving as a coach, or music director, or a zillion other roles).

    I think that's it, but welcome other opinions.


  13. Paul,
    Several years ago, I had a conversation with a teacher in the HSD concerning unions. Both of us had been out of college for 5 years, she was a teacher, I worked for a bank. I couldn't understand why she thought it was appropriate to everyone to receive the same pay increase, regardless of their skills and/or performance.

    I loved my job and worked very hard to stand out and excel in my field. It showed by my always receiving excellent ratings on my annual reviews which translated to higher than average salary increases and more frequent promotions. I was (at that time) what was considered an overachiever. I worked at that level for about 10 years. Then along came family and other responsibilities and my efforts were reduced as were the frequency of my promotions and the percentage salary increases.

    She (my teacher friend) said that it would be impossible for a principal or anyone to be able to give an accurate performance review for all of the teachers in a building, thus the only fair way to pay teachers was the same amount. Needless to say, neither could convince the other of the advantages or disadvantages of having a teacher's union. (I've since learned about collective bargaining and union support/lobbying of politians and school board members that I was blissfully unaware of at the time)

    I came away from that conversation with the perception that she (and probably many other teachers) was uninspired to overachieve, or even to simply perform at a level that was even slightly better than average, because other than self-satisification, there was no incentive. How sad, I thought, to be limited to being rated the same as everyone else.

    Fast forward to today - I have one child who has graduated and one still in school. I now understand more about how teachers salaries and benefits are calculated. I think it contradicts the very nature of a free, efficient market, and ends up short-changing not only the students, but tax payers and excellent teachers as well.

    My oldest child had a 5th grade teacher who in addition to teaching, ran a bed and breakfast on the side. She was simply putting in her final years teaching in order to receive a better retirement (at age 55) and subsidized health care. She was often late, unorganized, and I'm guessing taught the same materials as she had the previous 10 years with minimal effort. And each year we paid her more and more money. Her lack of dedication was certainly obvious to the other parents, and I'm guessing it was to the principal and fellow teachers as well.

    My younger child had a first year teacher for kindergarten. This teacher went over and above her responsibilities, yet when the school system had to cut teachers, we lost 2 very enthousiastic first year teachers and retained the B&B owner/5th grade teacher who made more than the combined salaries of the 2 first year teachers.

    I don't know what the answer is, but I know it's not the current system. I know I'm still probably terribly naive about negotiating with a union and even about trying to get rid of a union that has so much money and such strong political support, but continuing to be held hostage to the HEA is not going to bring about a solution.

    I'm all for charter schools and the freedom to choose. I know that charter schools have gotten much bad publicity, but I think it's only because it's the negative news that sells papers. There are several excellent charter schools in Ohio - I'd love to have a charter school like Toledo School for the Arts available to my child!

  14. I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  15. In the end, the union doesn't protect the best professionals, only the ones with the most service time. We'll dump some very good young and promising teachers in a layoff, and keep some duds who: a) get paid a lot; and, b) should have found another line of work years ago.

    I suppose this is because the union leader is an elected position and as such is answerable to the teachers which means:

    A) teachers with seniority are highly networked, i.e. know all the other teachers, and can more quickly end a union leader's career. Veteran teachers have defacto political power due to the power of word-of-mouth.


    B) Union leaders and teachers likely figure that it's better the young be sacrificed given they are more mobile, usually have fewer ties (i.e no children in school). They are also less resistant to change and have higher energy levels. Combine those and they'll have less trouble finding another job than older teachers.

    It's all about jobs. Unions aren't about the kids.

    But more interestingly is why the contract negotiations appear to bother some of us. I don't get that.

    I think given the slim margin of victory it was about the best deal the taxpayer was going to get. I don't think a protracted teacher strike would be particularly helpful, especially since teachers are finally paying some of their insurance premiums and especially since the levy might fail and a strike would only cripple things worse.

  16. So do any Central Ohio districts use a merit-based approach to compensation? Also, how do Hilliard CSD salaries and benefits under the new contract compare to those in other Franklin County districts?

  17. Re: Why people were botherd by the contract negotiations

    For one, they were brought into the classroom had had effects on the students potentially graduating and
    the retribution afterward

    Two: Because the contract negotiations have produced potential
    20% increases in tax bill every 2 to 3 years for the future

    Three: Because the medical contribution as noted is nothing tostrike over compared to what everyday people are paying

    Its not about the kids any longer its about compensation. Camp Joy,
    graduation, the lack of respect for students and parents

    If the strike comes, so be it at this point. The district has given
    very nice compensation for the last 3 contracts at least, a premium medical plan with little contribution.

    3 very good deals for the HEA
    why talk of a strike and threatning students, parents and taxpayers.

    And you wonder why so many people have dug in and are ready to say no to anything

    The smart play will be compensation
    adjustments and a 4 mill levy for
    3 years. There are plenty of potential new employess graduating in education this year. !

  18. To anon at 4:46:

    There are many reasons to be bothered by the negotiations and the contract. The Board and the HEA made a contract we cannot afford without a 9.5 mil levy, a 20% cost increase over 3 years. Our last increase was almost 25% four years ago. Many of us cannot afford to continue to have our taxes raised at a rate that far exceeds the rate of inflation and student growth. The teachers received a raise structure (7% per year)and medical insurance structure ( 6, 8 10% premium) that is unheard of, and totally unjustifiable, in today's economy. 6% of medical? I pay 100% of my premium with an enormous deductible and have not had a raise in several years. I can't afford the last levy. To afford another huge levy and still live here I will ahve to cut back on essentials: gas, food, medicine. I have almost no discretionary spending in my budget. I have not had a vacation in years. I would be foolish to vote to take money from my pocket and put it into someone else's. There are many people just like me who are tapped out. The Board has to get realistic about its cost structure and what this community can afford. They need to make cuts before they come asking for more. They had the perfect opportunity when they were negotiating with the union following the levy defeat. If the Board had bargained from the position of "there are no raises in the budget since the levy was defeated", a contract would have passed with smaller raises and higher contribution to medical. Both the HEA and the Board were counting on wearing down the public and getting a levy, because they always have in the past. If the levy fails and cuts have to be made, the Board and the HEA own it.

  19. Anon 5:42 - To my knowledge, no central Ohio public schools have any merit component to pay. I've scanned all the teachers' contracts (available here), and they all pretty much look the same, primarily because they all came from the same NEA/OEA boilerplate.

    Here's an article I wrote back in March comparing the deals across central Ohio districts. This chart attempts to summarize things.


  20. This is anon 4:46 to anon 8:16...

    Thanks, that was helpful and well-articulated. It seemed to me the contract this time was not completely business as usual, but at the same time there's no doubt it does force 9.5 levies every few years for as far as the eye can see.

    I do sympathize and completely understand why you'll vote no. I wonder how bad many of us will be hurting if the much maligned Bush tax breaks (which expire in 2010 I believe) are not extended.

    Part of this "perfect storm" is that real wages for middle-income workers have been "stagnant or declining for years" as the latest National Review put it. Can't get blood from a turnip. If there was ever a time for teachers to take one for the team, this would've been it.