Some confuse diplomacy with a lack of resolve. Cordiality can be mistaken for weakness. These assumptions are often proven wrong. Such was the case this week. On Tuesday afternoon, our members made this clear to the school board of the Menifee Union School District. Your passionate but well-reasoned speeches before the board and members of the public delivered our message in no uncertain terms: We deserve and, as such, demand respect. This is not the petulant stance of underperforming, entitled clock watchers. This is the reasonable expectation of dedicated professionals and, like the professionals of our surrounding communities, worthy of recognition.
On Wednesday, an encouraging number of our members put faces on our position. Your presence underscored our determination to reach a fair settlement. Your Team understands that no one really wants to carry a sign on a sidewalk after a full day of work, but we cannot convey how important your footsteps and honk-inducing noises were to our joint cause.
The activity of these two days served to further the bargaining process more than all of our previous sessions combined. While this is not intended to imply that a settlement is imminent, Your Team sees reason for optimism. We return to the table on Monday, June 1. Regardless of the outcome of that day, we envision some finality in our presentation to your Site Representatives on Tuesday, June 2. This will either be in the form of a Tentative Agreement subject to membership and board ratification or the absence of such an agreement and a plan to, perhaps, pursue the next step in the negotiations process.
On behalf of the Team, and of the Membership at large, I extend sincere gratitude to those who were able to offer their time and talents this week. We will continue to devote our best to your interests.
Your Team met with District representatives on May 7th in hopes of making progress toward a settlement. It would be inaccurate to say that we were not productive but, unless there are some major changes in proposals, it seems increasingly unlikely that we will be able to reach an agreement before the end of the school year. It should be noted that any tentative agreement must be ratified by MTA membership and the school board. Given the time necessary for this, we are skeptical of leaving on June 10th with a new contract secured.
Your team did deliver an unequivocal declination of the District's compensation offer. Members clearly conveyed their dissatisfaction with this proposal and Your Team continues to believe that this offer was not an accurate representation of the District's budgetary ability nor is it indicative of an intent to honor our efforts and years of loyalty to this community. Our members continue to not only lag behind most of our colleagues in neighboring districts in terms of compensation, we have seen our purchasing power decline year after year during the Great Recession. We hear reports that there are signs of recovery. We read that the State reaps significant and (at least to some) unexpected revenue. We see favorable settlements in other districts. Yet none of these positive factors seem to figure in our bargaining sessions.
Your Team remains hopeful that future sessions reflect a common understanding that ours, like all successful organizations, depends upon its people. Those people can reasonably expect a fair exchange of compensation for their services. We pledge to do our best to secure this understanding. Thank you for your support.
On behalf of Your Team,