Bargaining Update: Language Ratification and Status of Fact-Finding


Ratifcation is now open on 20-21 Language Agreements until February 3rd, 2021.  You must be a member to vote.  Please check your email for access to the ballot.  Click here to read the full tentative agreement.

We won some good, concrete language changes that moved us closer to addressing some of the top issues we as JESPA staff raised in 2019-2020:

  • the ability for part-time workers to gain full-time employment by working multiple part-time jobs and to help fill vacancies as understaffing has been a chronic issue we are working to address. This would allow more people to gain access to health care and the hours they need to make ends meet.
  • A professional development committee that would focus on pathways for advancement for ESPs and even focus on creating an ESP to teacher pipeline and focus on increasing the number of educators of color.
  • Innovation language – if a school becomes an innovation school, they can opt out of laws, policies, and even the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We, along with JCEA, negotiated provisions that would make this process more transparent and lay out clear guidelines for who gets to vote on the innovation plan and how the voting will work.  We also have a provision allowing for JESPA bargaining unit members to transfer out of an innovation school and into a school that has not waived out of their rights.
  • Updated language that allows for non-disciplinary, non-punitive approaches to performance issues and misconduct, including the option of restorative practices. Performance issues must be address with coaching and feedback and training prior to discipline.  All performance expectations must be concrete, not subjective.  

We also fought proposals the district brought that would be detrimental to our members and that looked like union-busting strategies to keep us from enforcing our contract.  The district withdrew their proposals on:

    • The ability for the district to decide whether JESPA grievances were valid or not prior to the grievance process.
    • Changes to “Call in Pay” that would have been detrimental and confusing for members.


Fact Finding:

Finally, our membership recently voted to continue and move forward on wage negotiations to “Fact Finding.”  We now have a fact-finder assigned – John Numair.   Fact finding is scheduled for February 23 and 24th.  Members will be able to watch this hearing as it will be conducted publicly. 


We expect the fact finder to address the question:  “Is the JESPA proposal reasonable, and can the district afford it?”  We also expect the fact finder to answer a question that clarifies our bargaining unit and should include ALL preschool workers who are not licensed educators.  

We are clear that even if the fact-finder rules in our favor, our board of education is mostly against us.  They have the authority to overturn the fact finder’s position.  In that case, we expect that the board will implement their “last, best, and final” proposal – 3% one time stipend.  Although we fought hard against the inequity that a percentage stipend means for ESPs, this could be what we see in the end, but strategically, we felt it was the right move to get toward more accountability and transparency from the district and the board of education.

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