Negotiations

Upcoming meetings:

February 13, 2021

Negotiations Team Members:

Brandon Auge

Aaron Danielson

Josiah Hill

Todd Kapsner

Kim Schneider

Jason Taverna

Darby Whitehill

February 1, 2021

The SCEA Negotiations Team met in mediation with Administrative colleagues and two School Board members for 7+ hours on Friday 1/29.  Progress was made but we have not yet arrived at a tentative agreement (often referred to as a TA).  Additional documents/proposals were requested for later this week and another mediation session has been set for Sat. 2/13. 


For those new to the process, once a TA is achieved, it would be brought to the Executive Board and then to membership for a ratification vote.  In addition, the SCEA Settlement Team has been formed and is meeting this Wednesday February 3rd to add details around timelines and actions should we need to take more organized steps to secure a fair settlement for all members.

January 20, 2021

As we gather for our January SCEA meeting we wanted to share an update once again about where we are in the negotiation process. We want to acknowledge the frustrating nature of a protracted negotiation process and thank you for your understanding and patience. 

We met as a SCEA bargaining team on the morning of January 15th followed by an afternoon meeting with members of the admin team as well as two board members. Those present were Superintendent Lansfeldt, Cindy Gustafson (New Director of HR), John Thein (New Finance Director), Vanessa Norby (District Accountant), Katie Hockert (newly seated School Board member) and Tina Riehle (board member).

Given the new participants in the room, we started by sharing where we have been in this process and the perspective of our membership. We emphasized the growing frustration experienced by our members while ensuring we desire to continue our partnership and collaboration with the district in the upcoming levy and bond requests that will be critical to the fiscal stability of District 834. 

We reviewed all the financial components again to the district again emphasizing the urgent nature of bringing a fair settlement back to membership. Our conversation included some creative components to bring the entire financial package to a place comparable to districts that surround us. 

The district spent time discussing our proposal and came back without a response, citing a need to convene the school board in a closed session to discuss further the financial components and implications of our offer. This happened on Tuesday, January 19th at 5:00 pm. At this point we don’t yet know the outcome of that meeting. As a reminder, the previous board set financial parameters for this process. With a new board seated, this is a reasonable next step and we believe they should be allowed the opportunity to speak into this process. 

Moving forward, we are prepared to assemble a settlement committee after we understand the outcome of the closed school board session. Our local union leaders have applied for and secured matching grant dollars from Education MN. ED MN will cover 80% of the cost incurred to the union. These dollars can be used to expand and focus communication, unify members, and organize as we focus our efforts to come to a settlement. 

We have another mediation session scheduled for January 29th, 2021. We continue to be in communication with district leadership and remain open to meeting prior to this date.

December 16, 2020

As we gather for our December SCEA meeting we wanted to share an update once again about what is happening with the negotiations process.  

In line with many other things from 2020, our negotiations process has recently experienced some unexpected changes as well.   We were planning and preparing for a second mediation session this month when we were notified that our mediator from the Bureau of Mediation Services was reassigned to work on something to do with the Covid-19 pandemic.  Shortly after, we became aware that Cathy Moen (who serves as the districts lead person for contract negotiations) was leaving Stillwater Schools in early December for a position elsewhere.

After some team discussion and adjusting of schedules, we are now in the final stages of rescheduling our second mediation with a newly assigned mediator from the bureau.  We hope to have more news to share at next month’s meeting.

We appreciate your support and patience as this process has taken a whole lot longer than we ever could have predicted.  We recognize the lack of pay raises and back pay may have created a financial burden on some of our members and their families. We are working and doing everything we can to bring you a fair settlement as quickly as possible.

November 18, 2020

We wanted to share an update once again about what is happening with the negotiations process. 

We recently met with the Bureau of Mediation Services. We continued to seek understanding and clarity as to the financial position of the district. We shared perspectives with the mediator and as well as the numerous pathways we have pursued over the past number of months to come to a fair settlement. After our first mediation session, we decided as a team that it would be beneficial for us to hear an updated financial presentation by our interim finance director, Dale Sundstrom. We met for this presentation last Friday, November 13th.  The financial presentation did not seem to demonstrate a need to take a settlement that is not in line with the state or surrounding district averages.

Therefore, we hope to schedule additional mediation sessions in the near future in hopes we can come to an agreement regarding the financials. 

We appreciate your patience and understand this process has created a burden on our members and their families. We are working and doing everything we can to bring you a settlement worthy of your service to this district.

October 29th, 2020

We wanted to share an update once again about what is happening with the negotiations process.

Today we met with the district and a mediator from the Bureau of Mediation Services.  We were able to complete outstanding language items.

Additionally, perspectives were shared with the mediator and the district shared a new financial proposal with our team.  At this point we are still a ways apart when it comes to financials.  We have two more upcoming meetings.  Friday, November 13th and Monday, November 16th.

Plans are moving forward to gather the settlement team to discuss next steps in advance of our November 16th meeting

September 16th, 2020

As we begin what is sure to be an interesting school year, we wanted to share an update once again about what is happening with the negotiations process.

As we enter the second year of an expired contract, most districts locally and around the state are now settled with the average 2 year  combined pay increase running slightly above 4%.

We were able to complete several memorandums of understanding this past month which allowed us to enter into this school year and try out some new components around the concepts of paid leaves, family insurance rates, preschool teachers, and a covid 19 personnel adjustment snapback provision.  We will continue to respond to questions/concerns related to the MOUs through the building representative structure. There was a document shared with you for this purpose.

Financially, the school board met in two closed sessions in August to discuss negotiations and progress.  Following those meetings we received information that financial realities have not changed much if any as it concerns money for negotiations.  Considering the distance between our two sides when it comes to financial offers, we have mutually agreed to head to mediation.

Mediation session(s) will take place in October.  We have used mediation several times in the past when we have not been able to come to an agreement on our own.  Mediation services are provided at no cost to either party and are a non-binding process of trying to come together towards an agreement.

August 19th, 2020

As we move into the final few weeks of summer and strive to navigate the unusual return to school, we wanted to share with you a negotiations update.  Districts across the state remain pretty steady with settlements continuing to hover just above 4% for the combined two year increase.  Locally, we have been meeting weekly throughout the summer and working to obtain a fair settlement for members. We want to recognize and thank the membership for their patience during this protracted negotiations process. We understand the challenges this presents for our colleagues across the district as we begin to navigate all the uncertainty that comes with the beginning of this school year.  

Financially (costs associated with salary and benefits)

  • We have shared 5 proposals to date, and the district has shared 3.  We are still a fair distance apart from agreement on this issue.  
  • The board recently re-convened in closed sessions to further discuss negotiations, and district finances.
  • We haven’t received an update regarding the board’s first closed session.  
  • Board has re-scheduled a second closed session this Thursday 8/20 to further discuss negotiations.
  • After our next bargaining session, we plan to share an update and potential next steps with the Executive Board.
  • Reminder: We signed a MOU retaining family medical insurance premiums at 19-20 rates until the contract is ratified.

Language (written terms outlining working conditions)

  • We have worked through and come to an agreement on over 20 different language items (see list below in July 15th negotiations update).
  • District counsel is working with our partners at Education Minnesota to come to an agreement around the impact of the Janus decision on language related to member dues.

Thanks for your continued support as we work through this process. Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions.

July 15th, 2020

We hope that your summer is providing you some time to rest, relax, and recharge your internal batteries.  Your negotiations team continues to work and meet on a weekly basis.  As of mid-July,  at least 205 of the 327 districts around the state have settled.  Two year combined salary increases continue to run just above 4%.  Locally, our team has continued to meet with representatives from the district.  We have 2 more meetings scheduled as we move through the second half of July.  

  • Financials (costs associated with salary and benefits):
    • We have shared 4 financial proposals, and the district has shared 3 financial proposals.  We are still quite a distance apart on salary increases.  We are currently asking for pay raises similar to what is happening in neighboring districts and around the state (as well as retroactive back pay).  The district seems in agreement on back pay, but is currently offering very little increase to salary schedules.  
    • On a positive note, we were able to come to a MOU agreement to hold employee insurance contribution rates at the 2019-2020 level until the time of settlement.  This temporarily avoids the 8% increase which was set to begin for family plans with the first pay period of July.  Single insurance premiums continue to be fully covered/paid.
    • In addition, the district has agreed to open up a new payroll deduction/investment option called a Roth 403B (to begin fall 2020).  
  • When our team visited worksites during the Spring of 2019, we heard from members about what their working conditions/situations were like.  We gathered ideas,input and suggestions for how to improve conditions.  These proposed changes to the terms and conditions within the written contract are what we refer to Written Language Items .
  • We started negotiations with around 23 items to discuss and try to improve.  Some examples of items worked on are listed below.  At this point we are very close (within 1 or 2 items) of concluding the language components. 
    • Emergency School Closings
    • Elementary Substitute Pay
    • Early Childhood/Pre-school
    • Substitute Shortages
    • Sick Leave Bank
    • Elementary Specialists
    • Special Education
    • Professional Development
    • More Flexibility Within Our Paid Time Off System
    • Teacher Protection And Student Discipline
    • Teacher Rights
    • Association Rights
    • Vacancies And Teacher Placement
    • Parental Leave
    • MOUs Updated (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding, a written agreement between SCEA and District 834 which resides at the end of the contract)
    • Conferences

Finally, the team wanted to recognize the support and patience the membership has been demonstrating throughout this protracted bargaining process.  It has definitely been unique, and some would say unprecedented times with in-district tension and turmoil as well as outside factors like social justice and a national pandemic.   We are dedicated to doing this work on your behalf and also keeping you informed of any/all progress.  We thank you, and appreciate your support.

June 30th, 2020

We hope that your summer is off to a great start.  Your negotiations team continues to work

SCEA Executive Board Negotiations Update:  July 15th, 2020

We hope that your summer is providing you some time to rest, relax, and recharge your internal batteries.  Your negotiations team continues to work and meet on a weekly basis.  As of mid-July,  at least 205 of the 327 districts around the state have settled.  Two year combined salary increases continue to run just above 4%.  Locally, our team has continued to meet with representatives from the district.  We have 2 more meetings scheduled as we move through the second half of July.  

  • Financials (costs associated with salary and benefits):
    • We have shared 4 financial proposals, and the district has shared 3 financial proposals.  We are still quite a distance apart on salary increases.  We are currently asking for pay raises similar to what is happening in neighboring districts and around the state (as well as retroactive back pay).  The district seems in agreement on back pay, but is currently offering very little increase to salary schedules.  
    • On a positive note, we were able to come to a MOU agreement to hold employee insurance contribution rates at the 2019-2020 level until the time of settlement.  This temporarily avoids the 8% increase which was set to begin for family plans with the first pay period of July.  Single insurance premiums continue to be fully covered/paid.
    • In addition, the district has agreed to open up a new payroll deduction/investment option called a Roth 403B (to begin fall 2020).  
  • When our team visited worksites during the Spring of 2019, we heard from members about what their working conditions/situations were like.  We gathered ideas,input and suggestions for how to improve conditions.  These proposed changes to the terms and conditions within the written contract are what we refer to Written Language Items .
  • We started negotiations with around 23 items to discuss and try to improve.  Some examples of items worked on are listed below.  At this point we are very close (within 1 or 2 items) of concluding the language components. 
    • Emergency School Closings
    • Elementary Substitute Pay
    • Early Childhood/Pre-school
    • Substitute Shortages
    • Sick Leave Bank
    • Elementary Specialists
    • Special Education
    • Professional Development
    • More Flexibility Within Our Paid Time Off System
    • Teacher Protection And Student Discipline
    • Teacher Rights
    • Association Rights
    • Vacancies And Teacher Placement
    • Parental Leave
    • MOUs Updated (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding, a written agreement between SCEA and District 834 which resides at the end of the contract)
    • Conferences

Finally, the team wanted to recognize the support and patience the membership has been demonstrating throughout this protracted bargaining process.  It has definitely been unique, and some would say unprecedented times with in-district tension and turmoil as well as outside factors like social justice and a national pandemic.   We are dedicated to doing this work on your behalf and also keeping you informed of any/all progress.  We thank you, and appreciate your support.

and meet on a weekly basis.  Here is the most recent update.  Around the state just over 200 of the 327 districts have settled.  Two year combined salary increases continue to be slightly above 4%.  Locally our team has continued to meet weekly throughout June.  We have 3 more meetings scheduled as we move forward into July.

Negotiations Update:

  • Financials (costs associated with salary and benefits):
    • We have shared 4 financial proposals and the district has shared 2 financial proposals.  We are still a fair distance apart on numbers at this point.  We are currently asking for pay raises similar to what is happening in neighboring districts and around the state.  The district is currently offering very little increase to salary.
  • Language Items (written components in the contract document describing terms and conditions of employment):
    • We are very close to concluding the language component at this point.  Some of the items we have discussed and worked on are as follows:
      • Emergency School Closings
      • Elementary Substitute Pay
      • Early Childhood
      • Sick Leave Bank
      • Elementary Specialists
      • Special Education
      • Professional Development
      • More Flexibility Within Our Paid Time Off System
      • Teacher Protection And Student Discipline
      • Teacher Rights
      • Association Rights
      • Vacancies And Teacher Placement
      • Parental Leave
      • MOUs Updated (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding, a written agreement between SCEA and District 834 which resides at the end of the contract)
      • Special MOU Created To Hold Insurance Costs Level Until Settled
      • Roth 403B Investment Option Being Added This Fall
      • Parent/Teacher Conferences

June 17th, 2020:

Negotiations Update

  • Around the state close to 200 of the 327 districts now have settled.  Two year combined salary increases continue to hover slightly above the 4% mark.
  • Locally our team has continued to meet weekly throughout May and into June.  We are attempting to wrap up the written components of language found in the contract, and we are beginning the process of negotiating the numeric financial components of salary schedule and benefits.  We have 2 more meetings scheduled as we move forward through June.
  • Not sure how changes to our district over the next few weeks will impact the bargaining process.  We continue to strive to achieve a fair and timely settlement.

Insurance Update

  • Monthly family medical premiums are increasing 8% starting July 1, 2020.
  • Single insurance plans should continue to remain fully paid.
  • Monthly dental premiums are increasing 3% starting July 1, 2020
  • Until the contract is settled, look for rates (as payroll deductions) to temporarily increase.
  • Dental up approx. $1.41 per check
  • Family Medical Gold Plan increasing approx. $81.68 per check
  • Family Medical High Deductible (Veba) increasing approx.  $66.11 per check

Final insurance premium costs will most likely be less, but it ultimately depends on final cost sharing arrangements negotiated with the district.

May 20th, 2020:

Negotiations Update

  • Around the state about 190 of the 327 districts now have settled.  Two year combined salary increases continue to hover slightly above the 4% mark.
  • Locally our team has continued to meet and negotiate with district representatives through zoom meetings.  The prior four weekly meetings we have been working on language items.  We believe we are getting close to wrapping up the language components, and we are beginning the process of negotiating the financial components of salary and insurance.  We have 3 more meetings scheduled as the school year wraps up and we move into June.

Insurance Update

  • We just wrapped up the benefits open enrollment period for 2020-2021.
  • We are continuing same coverages with Blue Cross as our medical carrier and Delta Dental for dental.
  • Monthly medical premiums are increasing 8% starting July 1, 2020.
  • Monthly dental premiums are increasing 3% starting July 1, 2020
  • Until the contract is settled, look for rates (as payroll deductions) to temporarily increase.
  • Dental up approx. $1.41 per check
  • Medical Gold Plan up approx. $81.68 per check
  • Medical High Deductible (Veba) up approx.  $66.11 per check

Final insurance premium costs will most likely be less,  but it depends on final cost sharing arrangements negotiated with the district.

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