After about eight months of negotiations, Sequim School District secretaries have a new salary schedule.
School board directors approved the schedule for Sequim’s Public School Employees (PSE) at a Feb. 5 board meeting, which include all secretaries in the district.
The agreement sets salaries for the bargaining group through Aug. 31, 2020.
PSE president Kayana Harrison said in an email the new contract increases secretaries’ salaries by 10 percent. Randy Hill, Sequim School District director of human resources, confirmed secretaries received the salary increase.
“Ninety-eight percent of secretaries were happy with the new agreement,” Harrison said.
Harrison said negotiations have been ongoing for several months after state legislators came up with a plan to fully fund education per the McCleary mandate, which was approved by the Washington Supreme Court in 2018.
“We were negotiating new wages since May of 2018 due to the legislative wage opener that allowed us to do so,” Harrison said.
Some of the changes in the new agreement include replacing the secretaries longevity piece with a $500 annual stipend for secretaries with 20 years or more of service. (In the old agreement, the longevity was a 10 cent increase at 10 years of service, 25 cents at 15 years, 50 cents at 20 years, 75 cents at 25 years and $1 at 30 years or more of service, Harrison said.)
The schedule’s incremental steps also changed from 10 steps at a top scale to 20 steps — each step reflecting a year of service, Harrison said.
There are two levels of district secretaries: level A, and level B who have more responsibilities. In the new salary schedule, a level A secretary starts at $18.59 per hour and ends at $27.08, and a level B secretary starts at $20.44 and ends at $29.77.
Harrison said she believes it took so long for the bargaining unit and the district to come to an agreement because the district was not willing to pay what secretaries were asking for.
“We met several times at the beginning where (the district) didn’t offer us anything but the Cost of Living Adjustment (at) 3.1 percent,” Harrison said. “That was unacceptable to our group, knowing what they gave the teachers.”
Hill said there are only three district staff available to handle contract negotiations and there were five different contracts needing to be negotiated.
“In my mind it was best to only bargain one contract at a time,” Hill said. “It’s a matter of having the resources available to bargain a contract while doing your other work.”
The schedule’s new salaries are based off the State Inflation Price Deflator plus 3 percent or the adopted Consumer Price Index for Western Washington, whichever is greater.
“In the end it paid off by holding out,” Harrison said. “We are happy with the agreement and were rewarded with the best raise the secretaries have ever received.”
There are 19 secretaries in their union.
Unrepresented salary schedule
Sequim School District board of directors unanimously approved a new salary schedule for unrepresented employees at the Feb. 25 board meeting.
Board directors tabled making a decision on this schedule at the Feb. 5 board meeting because of concerns brought up by staff in a letter sent to Board President Brain Kuh.
Kuh did not say who had sent the letter but said it was sent by individuals who could be affected by this new proposed schedule. At the Feb. 5 meeting, he said he would like more time for other board members to read the letter and to look into the concerns expressed in the letter.
From previous discussions, board directors also questioned why positions such as director of human resources, assistant superintendent, and the director of finance were included in the unrepresented group while those positions also are listed in the administrators’ contract.
In an interview, Hill said historically those three positions have always been included in the unrepresented group, and while they are listed in the administrators’ contract they do not receive any benefits from that bargaining group.
“The confusion is still there,” Hill said.
“They’re listed in the contract for the administrators but they’ve never been in that group as a part of that bargaining unit … I think that as things move forward and we’re able to work together those things will be clear.”