As schools closed down for the holidays, two groups of employees in the Snoqualmie Valley School District were still employed under the terms of expired contracts.
Both the Public School Employees (PSE) and the Snoqualmie Valley Administrative Secretaries Association (SVASA) unions have been in negotiations with the district bargaining team off and on since last spring.
The aim was to renew their contracts which expired Aug. 30. PSE includes most classified, or non-certificated, school staff such as bus drivers, custodians, aides and food service workers. SVASA membership includes most of the district secretarial staff.
Both unions have requested mediation help, with limited success so far.
“There's been no movement,” says Karen Seiser, co-president of SVASA, which had its first mediated meeting on Dec. 13. No offer resulted from that meeting, but another one is scheduled for Jan. 22.
PSE negotiations did produce an offer, for a four-year contract with a roughly 2 percent annual pay increase, that the leadership team brought before its members in November. Union president Jill Holen had been hopeful that the offer would be acceptable to members, but the Nov. 25 vote was 68 to 60 against the offer.
Since then, Holen said, no meetings have been set, but the leadership is planning on some member outreach.
“We want to get a survey out, and see why it didn't pass,” she said. “We can't do anything until we find out what needs to change.”
In recent months, members of both unions have filled the audiences of school board meetings, and called on the board during public comments to negotiate fair contracts. They felt they weren't being respected, and asked for a contract similar to the one accepted Sept. 8 by the Snoqualmie Valley Education Association, as teachers were preparing to strike. That contract awarded teachers a 2 percent annual pay increase that, with other healthcare benefits, came to a roughly 8 percent increase over the three year term, according to state PSE representatives.
Both unions agreed to postpone their contract negotiations over the summer months, to allow the district to resolve its contract with the teachers in time to avert the strike.