Picture this: you work in a school district where your holiday pay was hidden within your hourly rate. It made understanding your paycheck a real puzzle – you are supposed to get paid holidays, but those holidays were showing unpaid. The district assured you that it was all accounted for, but you never saw the actual hours you work nor do you see the separate paid holidays you were promised. Many of your coworkers believed that they are earning a salary and exempt from overtime pay under this structure, leading many to work off the clock and take work home! You wondered if you were alone in your confusion!
Several of your union coworkers stepped in to make progress toward pay transparency. They saw the issue and decided to fight for fairness. While the district was able to prove they had inflated the hourly rate with holidays, despite it appearing unpaid, these JESPA members still believed that we should all be clearly paid for their time and their holidays, and that the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the law, particularly the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), demanded clear explanations about how the district calculates pay.
In a nutshell, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law in the United States that sets basic labor standards for employees. It covers things like minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, and record-keeping requirements. The FLSA ensures that workers are fairly compensated for their work. It establishes rules for working hours, wages, and other important aspects of employment to promote a safe and fair working environment.
Because of your JESPA coworkers efforts through this grievance and then through bargaining, the school district is making a change to the way they calculate your pay and account for holidays.
Here’s how the wage schedule and holiday pay is being adjusted:
- First, the district has adjusted the hourly rate so that it does not include holiday pay. To do this, you start with the annual rate of pay, divide that by the total number of workdays and holidays on the calendar last year (before adding any new holidays that JESPA won.) Then divide that by the hours worked to get the correct hourly wage.
- Now, we have a new and corrected starting point for your hourly rate, to which the district will add the $1.40 per hour that was negotiated for a cost of living adjustment (COLA).
- You will then most likely move one step or have your step adjusted upward unless you were hired after April 1st or are not step eligible due to evaluation.
- Now that the pay has been adjusted, the holidays will now be paid separately on your paycheck. Year round 260 day employees have negotiated Juneteenth, for a total of 10 holidays, and school calendar employees have won MLK Jr Day, for a new total of 7 paid holidays.
This new transparent system starts with your September paycheck. It might be a bit confusing at first, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s all about making things clearer for everyone. No more hidden holiday pay! It’s going to show up as a separate line on your paycheck from now on.
Here’s a Summary:
- Previous Approach by the district: The district combined holiday pay within hourly rate, making it hard to track and see your actual wages and your holiday pay.
- Grievance: JESPA members filed a grievance due to unclear and hidden hourly pay, as we believed it to violate the contractual rights to paid holidays and clear hourly wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district agreed to change the way wages and holidays appeared on the paycheck.
- Settlement: Employer Action: Updating pay schedules by separating holiday pay, and addressing transparency.
- Calculation Change: Using new formula – annual rate ÷ (days worked + holidays) ÷ hours per day.
- COLA Addition: To the hourly rate without holidays, $1.40/hour was added for the cost of living adjustment (COLA)
- Step increases: Step movement or positive step adjustments for all step eligible employees hired before April 1
- Result: All holiday pay shown separately in checks, ensuring proper compensation, plus COLA and steps, and an additional holiday for all!
In summary, the pay concern centered on transparency. The district is adjusting pay practices to ensure clarity, separating holiday pay and showing it separately on checks. The FLSA mandates wage transparency, emphasizing an understanding of wage components. This aligns with your grievance, resulting in a recalculated and transparent pay structure.