WEA Discussion Forum for OTSD Budget Shortfall


69 comments posted

Thank you

Thank you for coming to this site to share your ideas regarding the budget cuts. Any ideas are welcome. This should be a safe venue where we can all be heard and respond with mutual respect.

We can say "no" to everything in the district proposal, offer other ideas, say "yes" to part or all of the district offer, or any combination thereof.

While this is a better place to brainstorm than the district e-mail, it is still open to anyone who wants to log in.

And thank you Carrie Scaife for setting this up!

Step Freeze

I just wanted to put in my two cents about the step freeze. I'm against it entirely. The DO argument that those who would be subject to RIF are those who are affected by step freeze is frankly garbage. There are people who have been in the district for 14 years who will simply NOT be subject to RIF who will be affected. I am only okay with cuts in pay if they affect 100% of the work force. We cannot single out certain groups and freeze their pay while others do not suffer. If we are truly a union we should be united. We should all suffer the same fate. It also seems unfair that those with the lowest pay in the union are those who are affected. I understand that the DO took freezes but it's a lot easier to deal with a freeze when your salary is so high to begin with. I think we need to look at alternatives to the step freeze. My building has several money saving suggestions. A freeze will create bitterness for years and this district already has enough bitterness.

That being said, if the district will absolutely not bargain this point, I would prefer acquiescing to the freeze than to more RIFs. We've lost enough amazing people.

step freeze

It seems to me that the step freeze also has a long lasting effect. For example, if you were supposed to make $40,000 this year, but only make $37,000, then you have lost $3,000. Say the freeze "unfreezes" the next year and you do make $40,000, but without the freeze, you should have been making let's say $43,000. You have lost $3,000 again. You basically lose money every year after the freeze, because you aren't making what you should have been making that year. That adds up as a loss for us every year and a gain for the district every year.

Is my thinking wrong on this?

Step Freeze

Step freeze, I agree is not a good idea. While I have issues with ECBC, I hope they are able to keep a step freeze out of the situation. We are all frustrated. I sincerely hope that ECBC can prove their worth. I do believe our WEA team is working hard for us.

Step Freeze

You are absolutely right! A Step raise, for one, is a statutory right that you have to bargain away. Don't!
Second, step freezes means that you will lost that amount of money times the numbers of years that you work.
You will always play catch up.
It is a terrible thing to bargain away a step increase.

It's common in today's economy

Many people in the so-called "real world" have had pay freezes and even pay cuts. I think that any COLA increase should be forgotten for this year. I don't know how we could ask for a raise while many in the workforce are having salaries cut by 2%-5%.

Cut days and forgot our COLA are my vote. Keep the step increases.

I used to work in the private

I used to work in the private sector and if I was still there I would have either lost my job or taken a significant pay cut. I (along with the OEA, ECBC and our self-sacrificing WEA budget committee members) think that this is a real issue and am in favor of some preemptive moves to avoid some very real pain in a year.

My preference a three day cut this year, 5 day cut next year and the 2& - 3% cola cut. This should make the numbers add up.

Our union already "singles

Our union already "singles out a certain group" and discriminates against them. Singles are paying twice the actual cost of their medical insurance. The executive council for eight years has voted to make singles pay out of their pocket to lower the cost for family coverage. Most in the union do not know it, but if you have "2 party" medical insurance and also "employee with children" you also are paying an inflated artificial rate for your insurance.

So while I understand your point of view about affecting 100% of the work force, the union leadership doesn't care.

If we were to go to a tiered

If we were to go to a tiered rate on our medical insurance it would save the district money. The composite rate costs the district more money and makes everyone have an out of pocket expense. Go to a tiered rate (the actual cost) and the majority of the union members "out of pocket" expense goes down as well as saving the district money.

Are we equal?

I have heard the single people in our union say that they do not want the step freeze because it does not treat everyone fairly. I applaud their point of view in light of the fact that they have been discriminated against on the insurance issue.

If we're being honest, People

If we're being honest, People who get Tier 1 or 2 Pers packages are having their retirement subsidized by those on Tier 3. Over 10 million of extra costs are because of T1 and T2 plans. If we as a group decide to not subsidize families for insurance then we must not make those on T3 subsidize those with the better retirement (1&2).


I know the insurance issue isn't perfect, but to say the leadership doesn't care is a low blow and a ridiculous statement.


The Executive council for 8 years has voted to make the singles pay for the families. 8 YEARS!!! It is indeed fair to say the leadership DOESN'T CARE that singles pay twice the actual cost of their insurance in order to pay for the families. Let's call it what it is...DISCRIMINATION. If it were the Districts decision to discriminate like this, the Union would be all over it.

It is tough to respect any Executive council member who has a family and continues to vote so that someone else pays for their family.

Good Site!


I am Kyra McFerran in OEA Communications and we love that you have a blog/website for your members. I would like to know who is the editor of the blog so we can give credit where credit is due. If you wish to remain anonymous here in the cyber world, just give me a call at 503-684-3300.

Kudos to you for a very nice web presence!

- Kyra

Food for thought

Just read this in Jack Bogdanski's blog (law prof at Lewis and Clark).


If tax revenues were up for 2009, then what gives with the budget projections?

Food for thought

It doesn't matter what the tax revenues were or will be - it only matters at what level the state funds the schools. The latest projections from the state show a drop in funding for the next biennium from $6 billion to $5.75 billion. Given the track record of the state for pulling more funds from schools as the biennium progresses, I wouldn't even bet on the $5.75 billion. Time to get out...

Letter from the Bargaining Team

5-14-10 WEA Announcement Regarding OTSD Budget Plan

Thank you for your patience and professionalism as your WEA bargaining team, OTSD, and ECBC negotiated budget cut agreements.

We surveyed WEA members after OTSD presented their proposal (COLA cuts, step freeze, and day cuts). Based on our member survey last month:
o 70% of our members agreed that our union needed to make some sort of contract concession to reduce the number and impact of RIFs.
o The first choice of members was to take five day cuts only.

After several meetings with our bargaining team, district office, and ECBC, the following details contained in an MOU has been approved by ECBC, WEA, and OTSD:
• Five day cuts in the 2010-2011 school year. That includes two contact days, two in-service days, and one holiday.
• The Retirement Incentive package will once again be offered to those members who will not need to be backfilled.
• For every increase in revenue of $100,000 above the district’s projections shown to the WEA membership in building meetings there will be a day restored to the school year.

Rather than RIF, WEA also proposed:
o Delaying cuts and spending our 10% fund balance down such as Gresham/Barlow and other neighboring districts.
o Continuing a budget discussion of possible cuts throughout the school year when the district carryover balance falls into a crisis percentage (5-6%).
o Offering severance to even those who may need to be back filled since OTSD is self insured for unemployment benefits so RIF costs the district up to $16,000.00 per person per year.

▫ OTSD opted to refer to their contract between OTSD and East County Bargaining Council for the remaining cuts, which stipulates a reduction-in-force (layoffs) to achieve their budget objective.
o some layoffs may be mitigated by retirement incentives, subject to restrictions

While this outcome was not what WEA proposed, and certainly not what we preferred, we must heed the choice of our district office in their efforts to maintain desired budget carryover balances for OTSD.

What we believe the next steps include:
• Shelley Redinger and Kenneth Bucchi will formally announce shortly the teaching areas where they may reduce staffing so teachers may consider transfers or retirements.
• A RIF list will be released after the retirements are processed.
• Anyone interested in possible retirement/early retirement should contact Kenneth Bucchi for consideration as there will be a short time for consideration for incentive

While lack of funding is a state and national issue, we all have to deal with it in our locals as well. No one at OTSD, WEA or ECBC wants to see cuts in staffing or service. We will continue to work to support the reinstatement of staff and services at the soonest possible time.

Notes by WEA President: Denise Emmerling-Baker on behalf of the 2009-10 WEA Bargaing Team

A Message From the Bargaining Team

Good Morning OTSD Board Members, Shelley, and Ken,

As one of the WEA Bargaining Team members, I want to say that I think we have actually achieved a great deal in getting ECBC to approve the recent MOU in which licensed staff agreed to a five day cut in contract days for each of the next two years. I do also think it was a good idea for the District to agree to enhanced early retirement benefits, as this may help reduce the number of job cuts required. Anyway, this was the first time that ECBC was willing to approve concessions made by a member local for two years. Previously, ECBC was not willing to look at any concessions made for longer than one year. This was also the first time that ECBC allowed a local to make concessions before the District involved was actually at a five percent level of budget cash reserves. We were able to get ECBC to take a long view and to take seriously what is on the horizon for the State of Oregon. This was not an easy thing to achieve. The first time we were just rejected outright. We decided that the situation was serious enough to rework our proposal and then send every Bargaining team member that we could to the next available ECBC meeting. And it worked! This is a good thing, even if it does not contain all of the concessions that the District wanted.
We of the WEA Bargaining Team have always been of the point of view that we want to work with the District to create the best possible outcomes for our students, our District, and our members. We appreciate that the District has followed the same path. When we were first approached by Shelley and Ken with a set of three areas of concessions, we held numerous meetings with our Executive Council, at the building level, and also had a meeting with our members as a whole. We have had to balance the wishes of the District, our members, and of ECBC. We have worked hard and done everything within our power to help achieve a solution to the District's budget difficulties. Politics, it is said, is the art of the possible. For us, we have done what is possible. We initially proposed more, and were shot down completely. At the time, Steve and Denise were given the impression that we might as well forget it with ECBC. However, we didn't give up. We tried again with all the forces that we could muster, and we got something done. We feel that it was a major achievement. We really have worked hard to help. I guess we thought the District would also be glad for what we were able to do.
In any case, I hope you will consider what I am saying. We are a loyal staff of teachers doing our best in difficult times. We all hope that you can minimize the number of job cuts that you make, and we appreciate your efforts to do so. Thanks.

Bill Pence

union vote

I'd still like to know exactlyhow our members voted and what was in the first presentation to ECBC that they rejected. I know the union protects us in many ways, but it is also seems that sometimes OEA and ECBE keep things stirred up when the WEA membership would like to come to concensus with the district. I have floated the idea that maybe we need to look at our relationship with ECBE. I believe that this administration has delt with us pretty fairly for the most part and we need to get over past issues with other administrations. They were up front with us about the RIFs and our options.

Was what came down the final decision?

Will there be any more bargaining? If not, can we do something about ECBC?

The public is not with us on

The public is not with us on this one. There is no way to spin this as "Bad District," "Good Teachers." The public is also questioning why we allow ECBC to dictate to us.

Get rid of ECBC

I'm for getting rid of ECBC. How many others are? How can we make it happen?

ECBC is not the enemy

I am absolutely 100% against separating from ECBC.

Reynolds did it. How has that worked out for them? Working without a contract...

ECBC does not dictate anything to us. We are equal members of the ECBC. They have bargaining standards that we helped write. We wrote the standards that we are complaining about. It seems silly to pick a scapegoat and demonize them. Especially when you don't have the information necessary to form an educated opinion.

ECBC definitely not our friend

Reynolds had a corrupt administration. The mess created by that administration had to be cleaned up by their hatchet man (Fisher). ECBC could not have protected the staff from that situation.

Our administration is, for the most part, a decent one. We should be working directly with them to get through these issues.

We are one member of ECBC. On an individual basis, we are equal. However, when the other members collude against us to develop leverage for use against their own districts, we are decidedly not equal. If this is not happening, why do we always hear about how difficult it is to get proposals through ECBC? Maybe we all just need to be enlightened about the process?

an educated opinion

It seems patronizing to say to someone that they don't have the information necessary to form an educated opinion. If we don't have the information it's not because we haven't asked. What is the information that we need to form an educated opinion?

It isn't a final decision

We are still bargaining. You will be getting information in the coming days.


You have got to be kidding. How long has it been since we were first "surveyed" about these issues? In any other walk of life, would you be OK with this type of convoluted process? Enough with this posturing and letting ECBC drive our future.

Have you seen the headlines in the Oregonian today? A decade of budget shortfalls? How is ECBC going to protect us from that?


We have laws on the books that protect our jobs, if we are doing our jobs. We pay close to $85.00 a month to be put through a month or so of turmoil at the end of every year or a contract negotiation renewal. What a waste of energy. At what point do we say, "Enough is enough!" Things will get worse before they get better with the economy. There should be a stipulation in our contract for times of economic crises. Live and learn. What ECBC will do is make certain that there will be 40 - 60 kids in a classroom. That ought to take learning to a whole new low.


Can we have another vote on how many of us want to withdraw from ECBC?

Ditch ECBC

Yet another member here suggesting that we ditch ECBC. Also, it would be great to have a little more transparency and communication from our union. What exactly is happening now? Don't we due paying members have a right to know?


Wow! So like 4 whole people want to withdraw from ECBC? We best get on that quickly. You realize we have 200+ members right? If you want to make change...there's an easy way to do it, put yourself out there. Run for office.

In my building our rep had a meeting yesterday, Friday, and told us tons of info. If that didn't happen in your building, maybe you need a new rep. If you're in the dark it's because you choose to be.


Please share with us the info you received. I went to the budget meeting and listened to the presentation of the supe. What she presented and the messages I keep getting from the bargaining team differ quite a bit. Seems like we should get the bargaining team and the supe up in front of the staff and have them lay out all their cards. If each party believes in their actions, then they shouldn't have a problem disclosing their information. Then, we can decide who to believe.

I am pretty tired of the he said - she said that's going on.

He said, she said.

Ditto on the he said she said.

Another alternative

Or maybe if we "want to make change" we take another "survey," the kind that the NLRB suggests, the kind where we petition to decertify and then pass cards to rid ourselves of these shackles. Then instead of having demagogues telling us what to do, we can decide everything for ourselves, locally. How is that for getting involved (4 Seriously, above)?

Unless “Seriously” believes that Multnomah knows best what’s best for us?

Tons of information..

Really tons. Do tell. Is it worth $85.00 x 12 x 200? That is over $200,000 a year.

I think your Math is a bit off

Look closely at your paycheck.

Only $10 goes to "local" union dues.

And you only pay union dues for 10 months.

10x10x200 = 20,000

SIGNIFICANTLY less than your original quote.

Yes, we pay more but it's for OEA. If you don't like it take it up with OEA, not WEA. This isn't the right forum. In addition the WEA budget is something you could easily obtain from the treasurer, Rose Bomar, if you are interested in where all of your hard-earned money is going :)

Really like 4

Really like four? Really you do not know how many people would like to get rid of ECBC. Most people are afraid to speak their mind. I think we should have a vote. I also believe that we should have an open forum between our super and the bargaining unit. I understand the need for representation in a negotiation setting, but I really am starting to believe that our educational system would be better off without unions. Oregon has one of the strongest teacher unions, some of the highest standards to meet to become a teacher, and mediocrity tends to rule the outcome of our educational endeavors. How very sad.

5 and Strong...

There are definately more than 4 or 5 unhappy with ECBC, myself included. They aren't representing us or what was surveyed. They said no to everything we voted on and then we had to go back and ask for them to at least give us the day cuts. How is that representing our voices? The numbers are finally out on what we all wanted in the surveys. I don't feel ECBC represented us as a district at all based on their decisions and our survey tolls. They are conflicting.

Important Message From the Bargaining Team (question)

The district's original plan, according to what I've read from the supe, was a two-year plan because it was achieved through concessions. If they are forced to RIF to save that money, instead, doesn't that mean they must now achieve the goal of $3.5 million worth of cuts all in one year? I think our counter offer created an unintended consequence here. That is why I believe the cuts are still so high even though we've agreed to cut some days.

Also, the way I read it, the $500k saved from cutting five days is not all from us, a lot of those dollars come from the classified, DO and administration, so we can't say that we're giving the district back $500k, it's more like $300k, I think.

But I think the big question that no one seems to wanna answer is what motivation the district would have to keep a larger fund balance than is necessary? It's not like they're giving themselves raises or anything. Didn't I read somewhere that they took freezes two years in a row? What am I missing? Someone please explain.

Good Question

You make some very good points and are asking some good questions. Make certain you talk to your building representative or Denise to make certain they have answers or have considered your point.

ECBC got us retirement incentive

With the 9-11 retirements pending this year, we are saving the district over $800,000.00 dollars. Add that to the days cut ($400,000.00) and we are up to 1.2 million. Didn't the district ask for 1.1 to 1.5 million dollars in cuts? The teachers alone have supplied that without a COLA cut or step freeze. Thank God for ECBC and our WEA bargaining team for holding fast and paying attention to our district budget. There is NO NEED to RIF. We have bargained in good faith and met the district demands.


Interesting that so many categories of our WEA union leaders were on the RIF list. Interesting that our district would consider such drastic cuts at a 10% (3.3 million dollar) budget reserve, interesting that ECBC deserters speak out on this site anonymously when anyone (including district office) could log in to blog. It will be interesting to see if district office will still RIF even though we have met their budget cut goal and who it will be. It will be interesting what district office (I mean any old anonymous person) blogs in response to this.

Very Interesting

Let me get this str8, if anyone disagrees with ECBC or our bargaining team, they're shills for the district? And if that’s not absurd enough, you accuse anyone who dares speak out with hiding behind anonymity, yet you submit your post anonymously, too. Seriously? The absurdity of such hypocrisy is almost too farcical for words.

I agree with the person who said that we need to put both parties in the same room and question them to see who is not being forthcoming. I do not appreciate being told that as a dues payer I have no right to voice concerns and even dare I say it, oppose the direction our leadership is taking us in. That kind of talk is what we use to get from the district, I don’t expect it from my own union.

I also think it is very misleading to say that ECBC got us the incentive program. The incentive program was created by our district last year when no one else in the state was doing that and then it was offered again this year. I know that it isn’t in-vogue to agree with your district but I think we need to be honest about what we know to be true and consistent with our arguments.

Why is it Us versus Them

Seems to me like the whole process is designed to pit us versus the district office. I am tired of not knowing all the facts.

It's very simple - get Shelley and Denise in front of a district-wide meeting. Have them present their "facts." We are smart people so let us take in the information and process it ourselves. Otherwise, we are blogging and protesting when we don't really have a clear idea of what's going on.

We should all be part of the OTSD team. Why do we have processes which try to pit us against each other?

Wasn't it the union leaders

Wasn't it the union leaders who wanted the anonymous blog? I agree that it would be much better to have people identify themselves with what they say. Unfortunately many of us who are union members do not feel free to speak up if we don't agree with the union. We are tired of the adversarial relationship between the district and the union. It takes up much too much of our time and energy. Why don't we "Stop the drama," and try to initiate a new kind of relationship between teachers and administration. How about putting the focus on why we're here - it's about the kids - not about us.

You embarrass yourself.

You embarrass yourself. There were deeper cuts to non-union leadership positions.


Do we already have 10 retirements in positions that can be left vacant? If so, that is good news.

When this crisis first came to the attention of our union what did we propose, before the district's offer? We keep blaming the district so i want to know what we proposed besides layoff? The day cuts were part of the district proposal and so were the incentives, so what did we propose?

We can't just be the union of "no," we need to have answers when the district is seeking alternatives to layoff. What were ours?

No one here has answered the question I've read at least twice here so far, and I don't care who is asking it if it's a good question: what is the district's incentive to maintain a higher fund balance than it needs?

Why would the DO freeze their pay two years in a row if it's all a lie?

I read here that the union is accusing the district of targeting union leaders. Does that mean that our leaders expected to be left alone while the rest of us were exposed to layoff? Being a union leader who rejected our vote to cut COLA should not exempt you from layoff. By the way, what union leader is being laid off? I don't know of any union leader being laid off. It's important to be truthful here, so please answer these questions honestly.

For the Record

The district absolutely DID NOT offer the incentive package as part of their proposal. They offered ONLY their three-pronged approach. When Ken and Shelley came to my building they specifically said they simply could not offer any retirement incentives this year. The ONLY reason we got that incentive package is because ECBC counter-offered it along with our five cut days. To be fair, last year, yes our district was innovative and creative, but this year it was ECBC who pushed the district to step outside of the box.

For the Record????

After I heard that ECBC rejected all of the district's proposal (initially), I contacted HR and asked what happens next. I was told that the district was letting our leadership take another swing at it with ECBC. I contacted the district about a week later and was told that ECBC had now agreed to the days but that they countered with four or five different concessions they were demanding of the district in exchange for those days such as Early Release and benefits pooling. The district argued that none of those things would save a single employee from RIF and then THEY countered with days plus the incentive offer.

So who is telling the truth and who is lying here. it must be one of the other and I think we all need to know the truth at this point!

Is this a contest?

What does any of this matter? Is someone trying to win a contest?

Please, I just want to get the straight scoop from both the bargaining team and the district office. Our bargaining team wants to look good and I am sure they have done a lot of work. The district office also wants to look good and maintain the good relationships that have developed over the past few years. These are not mutually exclusive goals. I just don't understand how this can be so hard.