Canby School District Files for Mediation in Collective Bargaining with Teachers’ Union

The Canby School District has filed for mediation in its months-long bargaining with the Canby Education Association — the union representing its certified teaching staff. The two parties continue to disagree over the amount of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for the final two years of their current four-year contract and other issues.

The bargaining is part of a limited, mid-term reopener to negotiate salary, insurance and working conditions for the remainder of the district’s 2017-2021 contract with the local teachers’ union.

Mediation is a service offered by the state Employment Relations Board to either side when a collective bargaining has gone on for more than 150 days without an agreement being reached. State mediators are experienced labor relations professionals trained to help the parties “informally and creatively” explore settlement options.

“We value the hard work of all of our certified staff,” the Canby School District said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate their dedication to the students of our district. We are hopeful that we will reach a tentative agreement soon.”

Representatives of the CEA say they were “saddened” to learn that the district wants to go mediation, and that they believe the district doesn’t seem to understand where they are coming from. To them, the issue is not just about pay, it’s about a lack of fairness, and a failure to redress the many sacrifices teachers made during the difficult years of the recession.

“As educators, parents, alumni and members of this community, the past 10 years have been fraught with sacrifices for the betterment of our students, district, and community,” a statement from the CEA read.

The district’s current offer of a 3 percent COLA would represent the highest Canby teachers have seen since 2010. There were no cost-of-living increases for four years, from 2011-2015.

Over the past three years, pay has risen just 2 percent per year, which teachers say is not enough to even keep up with inflation.

But teachers keenly remember those lean years, and they also remember a “clear message” they say they received from the school board: “our sacrifices now — while times are hard — will not go unappreciated once the economy recovers.”

They remember April 29, 2011, when the Canby High School art department was cut in “one fell swoop.” And they remember that same year, when they agreed to 14 unpaid (furlough) days, which included all of their paid holidays and most of their professional development days (only three were instructional days with students).

They accepted a total of 43 furlough days over four years during the worst of the recession, when they also agreed to zero percent COLAs. At the same time, they were asked to implement the new Common Core State Standards, with minimal training and no funding for new curriculum.

“This meant hundreds of hours of researching and writing temporary curriculums, right when our professional development time had been slashed,” the CEA statement said. “And we did it. We did our part, even though the financial losses affected our families and our futures.”

Teachers say they appreciate that the district has upped its offer to the highest COLA teachers have seen in a decade (the initial offer was 1.5 percent), but they feel it still “falls short” of redressing how much teachers and their families have given up since 2010.

The union’s counter offer was a 3 percent increase this year, followed by a 5 percent bump the following year, after which the current contract expires.

“When comparing each side’s current offer, they are quite close,” the CEA statement concludes. “They are so close, in fact, that there is clearly room for continued negotiation between the two.”

They say their bargaining team wants to continue negotiations: “CEA is still at the bargaining table. We hope the Canby School District will rejoin us.”

Salary data provided by the teachers’ union suggests that, with the 3 percent increase currently being offered, the Canby School District’s starting salary would be $44,413, with a maximum salary of $81,938.

Those numbers do not reflect the so-called “PERS pick-up” (a 6 percent contribution to employees’ retirement benefits that some districts offer in addition to base salary). Canby School District does not offer this because they rolled the PERS pickup into their base salary several years ago.

For a comparison of Canby’s salary data with other school districts in the area, see the chart below.

The following data comes courtesy the Canby Education Association and reflects salary schedules for the 2019-2020 school year.

DistrictStarting SalaryMax SalaryStarting Salary (w/PERS pick-up)Max Salary (w/PERS pick-up)
Gladstone SD36,91072,21639,12576,549
Molalla River SD39,25775,47139,25775,471
Oregon Trail SD39,99977,51842,39982,169
Estacada SD46,44479,14846,44479,148
North Clackamas SD40,78679,88343,23384,676
Newberg SD40,32279,95642,74184,753
Gresham Barlow SD40,16480,18542,57484,996
Parkrose SD40,98681,12043,44585,987
Clackamas ESD42,00081,78942,00081,789
Canby SD *44,41381,93844,41381,938
West Linn Wilsonville SD42,21083,90444,74388,938
Oregon City SD46,03784,52746,03784,527
David Douglas SD42,43084,56242,43084,562
Lake Oswego SD41,37284,81543,85489,904

* Canby School District’s data includes the current offer of a 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

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