Monterey Bay Charter School Welcomes Mediation with Monterey Bay United
Last month, Monterey Bay Charter School (“MBCS”) declared impasse in its negotiations with Monterey Bay United (the union representing MBCS teachers and other certificated staff) and requested that the Public Employment Relations Board appoint a mediator to assist the parties in reaching agreement. In legal terms, a declaration of impasse is an acknowledgement that the “parties have reached a point in their negotiations at which further meetings without the assistance of a mediator would be futile.”
After thirty-nine (39) bargaining sessions over sixteen (16) months several critical issues remain unresolved, including the following:
- Employment Status. MBCS proposes a 3-year probation with a fourth year should a teacher be on an improvement plan (reduced from 5 years). The union has not moved from its proposal of a 2-year probation. Based on experience, MBCS believes additional time is needed to fully assess novice employees, particularly in light of the additional teacher responsibilities in the Waldorf model. It is not fair to new teachers, who typically take three to five years to fully develop their skillset in a public Waldorf environment if the School has to make final decisions on probationary employment after only two years.
- Layoffs & Reemployment. MBCS believes that when layoffs become necessary, they should be based on credentials and qualifications of the employees, annual performance evaluations, and expertise/experience. The union’s proposal limits these decisions to seniority. Unlike traditional districts, which uses a seniority-based layoff system, charter schools like MBCS are required to demonstrate consistent gains in student performance and must therefore have systems in place to ensure the most effective teachers are retained.
- Wages. MBCS proposes a 3% retroactive on-schedule raise for all employees who worked in 2020-2021 with another 1.5% off-schedule bonus payment for 2022-2023, with the ability to reopen negotiations should enrollment significantly increase. The Union wants a 5% retroactive onschedule pay raise for all employees plus another 1.5% on-schedule raise beginning July 1, 2022 for a total of 6.5%. MBCS revenue has declined as a result of losses in enrollment due to the COVID pandemic. While MBCS agrees that teachers everywhere (not just MBCS) deserve higher pay, its proposal offers the highest possible compensation which the School is able to afford.
- Leaves of Absence. MBCS proposes limiting use of sick leave to 16 days per year. The union proposes unlimited use. MBCS has expressed its concern over the School’s inability to afford paying both teachers and substitutes for extended absences. Unlimited use of sick leave will require restricting a percentage of cash reserves, which leaves less revenue for other student and teacher needs. Unlike teachers in traditional districts, MBCS teachers are eligible for State Disability Insurance for longer term absences.
MBCS is hopeful that the parties can make progress with the assistance of a neutral mediator from the State.
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