JESPA’s bargaining team has a plan to address staffing shortages by supporting career advancement in JEFFCO Public Schools by investing in our current employees’ futures. Compressing the wage schedule will incentivize retention as well as attract experience by increasing lifetime earnings.
You can help. Union involvement has a direct correlation to increasing lifetime earnings for ESPs. Through collective bargaining, unions can negotiate higher wages and better benefits, which can lead to higher lifetime earnings. Research has shown that union members earn higher wages and benefits compared to non-union members. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, union members earn on average 13.7% more in wages than non-union members, and are more likely to have access to benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off. This can have a significant impact on lifetime earnings, as workers with higher wages and better benefits are likely to earn more over the course of their careers.
Our Collective Bargaining Agreement provides job security and stability, and if we gain strength, can also provide opportunities for career advancement and professional development. This can lead to more experienced and dedicated workers, who are likely to earn higher wages over the long term.
JESPA’s bargaining team has proposed a new wage schedule at the bargaining table and costed it out, as the district has continued to stall and has failed to meet the conditions of an MOU reached last year, which said the district and JESPA would collaborate on a new wage schedule in order to bring it mutually to the table this year. Given the district’s failure to engage in this process, we proposed a new wage schedule with the following standards:
- A $3 increase to starting pay and 4% between each step.
- No Longevity Gaps in Pay (currently, there are years between 8, 11, 16, and 21 where employees do not receive steps)
- Adding steps to those at the top of the scale.
- Eliminating unfairness, ambiguity, and intentional lack of transparency meant to create confusion.
Qualities of a Good Wage Schedule:
Any good wage schedule for Education Support Professionals (ESPs) should increase lifetime earnings by compressing and provide fair, transparent, predictable, adequate, and regularly updated compensation. It should reflect the value of the work that ESPs do, and help to attract and retain quality employees who are committed to providing the best possible support for students.
- Fairness: The wage schedule should be designed in a way that reflects the skills, experience, and responsibilities of the ESPs. It should be fair and equitable, without any bias or discrimination based on factors like age, gender, race, ethnicity, or disability.
- Transparency: The wage schedule should be clear and transparent, so ESPs can easily understand how their pay is determined. It should also be communicated clearly to all employees, so everyone understands how they can progress through the wage schedule.
- Predictability: ESPs should be able to predict how their pay will increase over time, and have a clear understanding of how they can advance to higher wage levels. This can help provide stability and reduce uncertainty, making it easier for ESPs to plan for their financial futures.
- Adequate compensation: The wage schedule should provide adequate compensation to ESPs, reflecting the value of the work they do and the skills they bring to the job. This can help to attract and retain quality employees, and ensure that ESPs are not living in poverty or struggling to make ends meet.
- Regular updates: The wage schedule should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the market, cost of living, and other factors that may impact ESPs’ pay. This can help to ensure that the wage schedule remains competitive and that ESPs are fairly compensated for their work.
Addressing Staff Shortages:
Compressing the wage schedule, or reducing the gap between entry-level and top-level wages, is helpful for retention. It can increase the rate at which an employee progresses through the wage schedule, leading to higher wages earlier in their career. This can have a compounding effect on lifetime earnings, as an employee’s future wage increases will be based on a higher starting wage. This can have a significant impact on lifetime earnings, as an employee who reaches the top of the wage scale earlier in their career will earn higher wages for a longer period of time, adding to their PERA, which also helps employees see Jeffco as a career they can retire from.
A compressed wage schedule will improve retention rates by providing a clearer path for career advancement and higher wages. This will retain more experienced and dedicated employees, who would earn higher wages over the course of their careers.
The District’s Response:
The district will respond to our proposal on Friday, May 5th.
The district’s financial proposal included the following:
- No additional increase to wages this year beyond the $1 that was ratified last year
The district also proposed changing th conditions of that agreed upon increase to a 4%, which is a regressive proposal.
- Increase of $10 per month towards the District’s contribution of $549, making the total $559.
- To address positions with higher vacancy rates in the meantime, the district will offer an additional 4% increase per cell for ONLY the following positions:
- Bus Drivers
- Bus Assistants
- Special Education
- Campus Supervisors
We found the district’s proposal regressive and divisive. Members in the audience and watching online did not react positively to the district’s proposal. The district apologized at the last session. We look forward to seeing their counter on our wage schedule.