January 30, 2023
Last Tuesday night, the JESPA bargaining team and members of the JCTA (Jeffco Transportation Association) went to the table to resolve a grievance over proposed retention bonuses for transportation and food service employees. Both departments wanted to use saved “underspend” dollars, which were accumulated due to understaffing, on an attendance bonus or a retention bonus.
After the JESPA board responded that an attendance bonus would not be fair and would lead to consequences like employees coming in sick to work or potential violation of the Healthy Families Workplaces Act, and would unfairly discriminate against employees using federally protected FMLA or ADA leave, employees in ransportation faced retaliatory and union-busting tactics from their management who spread word that they could not give bonuses anymore because JESPA said no.
JCTA members organized, gathering petition signatures from hundreds of their coworkers, demanding the promised option of a retention bonus. They also filed a class action grievance over the district’s duty to bargain these proposed bonuses and the union-busting tactics, resulting in last Tuesday’s bargaining session.
The district proposed two payments of $750 each, down from the original amount of $800 each, a regressive bargaining tactic and an example of acting in bad faith. While the JESPA team’s priority is ongoing wage increases, health insurance, and full-time hours for all JESPA bargaining unit members, they were not going to walk away and leave promised money on the table.
The JESPA team countered with the district’s original offer. However, the district did not bring the appropriate decision makers to the table. Phil Bedford, this school year’s new Executive Director of Employee Relations, brought Denein Cusack another ER rep, acting as a notetaker, but neither Executive Director from Transportation, Greg Jackson or Food Service, Beth Wallace nor any of their department designees, was at the table.
The JESPA bargaining team pointed out that the appropriate decision makers were not at the table, this ANOTHER bad faith tactic. When Bedford proposed he’d get back to us in a couple of weeks, the team and audience were shocked that again, the district was unreasonably delaying bargaining, ANOTHER bad faith tactic.
Despite the district’s actions, members of JESPA in transportation and food service stood strong and pointed out that employees deserve to be valued with the bonuses that were promised, and so much more. A day after the bargaining session that ended with NO progress made, the district put the full $1600 back on the table for dedicated food service and transportation employees.
Thanks to the JESPA members of these two departments staying strong and not giving up, there is now an official Memorandum of Understanding drafted to move forward, with the first $800 for those employees who have been employed since July 1st or prior on the February check. The second payment at the end of the school year will be for employees active since at least this month, January, meaning if you are a new hire this school year, you are eligible for the 2nd half of the bonus payable in July.
The JESPA board meets this week and will take an official vote on the MOU Wednesday. Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.