DATA, SSUSD come to terms

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The union negotiations are over, and the Sierra Sands Unified School District and the Desert Area Teachers Association have a contract that covers both the 2014-15 school year, as well as a retroactive raise for 2013-14.

The district team agreed to a 4-percent raise for the upcoming year, plus a 1-percent retroactive raise for the last school year. Negotiations on health and welfare benefits have also concluded.

“Both teams worked very hard to make major changes to the contract,” said Barbara Walls, president of DATA. “It wasn’t just about the money, it was also about working conditions, leave and safety. These are issues important to both sides. The changes were made to provide for a stronger contract.

“The DATA members are appreciative of all the hard work everyone has done. We’re looking forward to having this new contract implemented. The money is certainly a relief after all these years. Costs have been going up, but our paychecks have not.”

The members of DATA have ratified the agreement.

“All the reassignment and transfer language needed to be updated,” said Walls. “It’s been a patchwork for ages. We all worked hard to clean it up and the same is true for Peer Assistance Review and peer coaching, which is teachers helping teachers with their craft and profession.”

The last step in the process is for the contract to be presented to SSUSD’s Board of Education for a vote of acceptance, which will be done at the next board meeting, set for June 19 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

Walls said that when school begins in August, the contract, including the 4-percent raise, will take effect. The 1-percent raise will be retroactive to last June, and teachers should have their retroactive pay in July. Teachers who are continuing to teach this next school year will be eligible for an additional half-percent retroactive pay increase.

Ernie Bell, currently assistant superintendent, human resources, and soon to be the new superintendent, headed the district’s negotiating team with DATA, the Desert Area Guidance Association and the California Schools Employees Association.

“We are extremely pleased we have been able to reach an agreement with DATA,” said Bell. “We have worked extremely hard together this year on both contract language issues and salary.

“For the first time in many years, we are able to provide our staff and district employees with a well-deserved raise and we’re looking forward to being able to work together with all our bargaining units in future negotiations, not only with DATA, but also with DAGA and CSEA.”

The agreement also contains a clause that states that if the district receives an increase 9 percent or greater in new and ongoing monies, parties may to return to the bargaining table no later than January 2015.

Story First Published: 2014-06-11