Greetings, USEP members. You should have heard by now that the District and USEP signed off on this yearâ€™s contract. We are now in the ratification stage of that process. Voting will take place soon and is available to ALL EMPLOYEES, not just USEP members, as USEP is the EXCLUSIVE BARGAINING AGENT for all employees in the Bargaining Units (Instructional and SRP) for the District School Board of Pasco County.
Considering we, the District and USEP, had very little wiggle room to negotiate salary increases this year, I am proud of the result we were able to agree upon. All qualifying employees will receive salary increases. Equity was kept across the Instructional Bargaining Unit because the District added additional funds to the state given categoricals to make that happen. SRP were given salary increases and the District agreed to start implementing the new minimum $10.00 per hour wage that takes effect in September, getting ahead of State mandate, and again, adding money to make this happen.
We also came away with an â€œup to 20 additional Administrative Leaveâ€ days for repeated COVID-19 events that happened as a result of an employee performing their regular job duties. This is a HUGE accomplishment that USEP bargained and allows employees with qualifying work-related events up to 30 paid leave days (10 Federal and up to 20 Admin. Leave) BEFORE you need to utilize your personal accrued sick leave time.
With the economic package and the additional paid leave days, we have one of the best contract settlements for a District without a referendum. Your President has continued to work tirelessly with the School Board, Superintendent and Senior District staff to make USEPâ€™s position clear on all related matters. As a result of those conversations, the School Board is now, for the second year in a row, prioritizing employee salaries in the front end of the budget process. This is a drastic change from when we were offered what was left after District programs were implemented.
There are still other concerns upcoming, and your President addressed two of them at the latest School Board meeting. First is the question of vaccines for employees who are the very definition of front-line workers. The District is working with the Pasco Department of Health to get vaccines for our first group of applicants, those 65 years of age and over. As soon as the State delivers the shots to Pasco, those employees will be notified. As shipments into the State are increased, all employees will be incorporated into the process, according to the information we received.
The second concern is fast-tracking a ballot initiative – a referendum. I have been advocating for this to take priority for quite some time, but it seems as though there is now traction with the District to move in this direction. Additional monies would be used to supplement salaries and programs like those in participating surrounding Districts.
The 2021 Legislative Session is just around the corner and already there are bills being filed that would negatively impact Public Education employees. One of those filed bills is S.B. 78, which requires an individual to request and file for membership annually in a professional organization (union). This is not needed in Florida, as it is a right to work state and anyone can decide for themselves whether to join these organizations or not. I am enclosing a link and asking for ALL of you to click on the link and let your Legislators know why this bill is unnecessary.
Thank you to all our members for your patience and support throughout the negotiating process. USEP recommends your approval of this contract.
Anticipated date for the new salary is Feb. 19, 2021 paycheck and the retro should be available in the March 26, 2021 paycheck, pending ratification, of course.
Stay well, and again, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!