The 3-Minute Enrollment
Maryland Three minutes per teacher. That’s all it took officials of the Howard County Education Association (HCEA) to sign up new members attending a back-to-school orientation. Instead of filling out paper forms, the newest members of the Maryland State Teachers Association used one of 10 computers available to access the On-Line Membership Enrollment System (OLM). While several other states have partially automated enrollment for members using credit cards, “this is the first time NEA has had online registration using…payroll deduction,” says HCEA President Ann DeLacy. “The system made it easy for them to sign up at lunchtime and between sessions.” About 160 of the 320 teachers at the orientation became members. The electronic process allows new enrollees to begin receiving benefits within 24 hours.
Vermont After a lengthy bargaining ordeal, Windsor Southeast Education Association officials organized a committee named “Settle the Contract.” Members organized silent meetings, which took place under the window of the superintendent’s office. “They also attended school board meetings en masse,” says Robert Raskevitz, a Vermont-NEA UniServ director. “They didn’t say anything out of respect, but they filled the room.” The tactics worked. A settlement was reached on a three-year contract that calls for salary increases of more than 4 percent each year and boosts the base salary to more than $31,000 by the final year. The maximum salary for a veteran teacher with a master’s degree was also increased, and the health insurance premium contribution remained at 10 percent. “To maintain the co-pay was huge,” Raskevitz says.
Texas In an effort to curtail educator turnover, Education Austin (EA) members won a two-year consultation agreement that includes a 7.5 percent pay raise for education support professionals (ESPs) and teachers this school year and a 4 percent raise next year. In addition, EA won a commitment by the district to fully fund employee health insurance through fiscal year 2008. “High teacher turnover has plagued the district in recent years,” says EA President Louis Malfaro. “This commitment sends a message to our teachers and staff that we want you to stay.”
The High Cost of Health
Utah Despite a recent 5.6 percent salary increase for Jordan School District teachers, many experienced a net pay cut because of an even greater rise in health insurance costs. The smaller paychecks mean that new teachers will be more difficult to recruit, while some current ones can no longer afford Association dues—about $50 per month. “The dues money is going toward groceries,” says Laura Black, executive director of the Jordan Education Association. “Unfortunately, the insurance premiums here will impact our ability to recruit new teachers. We’ll be their last choice instead of first choice.” In 2005–06, Jordan teachers paid about $137 per month to cover themselves and their families. This school year, family coverage jumped to about $366 per month on the traditional plan, an increase of $229.
Washington The Everett Education Association (EEA) approved a new three-year contract that awards raises totaling 9.5 percent for a new teacher and 4 percent for a 24-year veteran. The raises reflect a statewide 3.3 percent cost-of-living increase for 2006–07. With standardized testing and district assessments taking up increasing amounts of classroom time, EEA sought compensation for the additional workload, either in added pay or in time away from the classroom to prepare for and grade the tests.
Teachers belonging to the Federal Way Education Association (FWEA) won a new contract through 2009. While the largest part of teacher salaries and benefits are set by the legislature based on education level and years of experience, the FWEA negotiated a supplemental contract for work done outside the classroom that will increase teacher supplemental pay in steps over the next three years.
Oklahoma “Call off your teachers,” state lawmakers told Joel Robison, associate executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA). When legislators wanted to add anti-teacher language to several bills that would augment reasons for a teacher to be fired or not reemployed by a school, OEA members organized public demonstrations and a letter- and e-mail-writing campaign that also focused on salary. The Association’s mantra was, “Three thousand dollars, no strings attached.”