BUHS classified employees negotiating for ‘fair share'

May 02, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Members of the Brawley Union High School classified employees association are demonstrating in front of the high school to show their concern over recent contract negotiations with district officials.

The classified employees have been negotiating the 2000-2001 contract with the district since March 1999.

At the association's meeting Monday, the membership decided to start demonstrating on their personal time to display their concern over the proposed salary increases.

The classified employees are asking for a 9 percent salary increase, while the district is offering a 5 percent increase.

A written statement by the employees states, "Brawley classified employees want a fair share of the moneys that were issued to all schools in the state. … Gov. Davis intended for those moneys to be used to provide increases for school employees, both teachers and classified."

The statement continues, "We have initiated this informational campaign to let the parents and citizens of Brawley know about our issues and ask for their support."


Demonstrators were passing out flyers encouraging supporters to call the school board members and express their concern over the classified employees' situation.

"The issue is money," said Garth Isom, district superintendent.

However, the written statement by the classified employees adds insurance is a key issue in the negotiations as well.

It states, "The district wants to increase the share of costs of insurance. An increase would mean more out-of-pocket expense for the employees."

Isom said the prolonged contract negotiations are "typical of CSEA."

"We don't usually settle until March or even as late as May," said Isom.

Isom said other issues that have been tentatively agreed upon by the negotiators include an increase in retirement stipends, vacation and holiday issues and the night maintenance crew negotiating for earlier hours.

"They gave us that because there's no money involved," said Carl Platt, a member of the night maintenance crew.

"Any time money is involved we feel like it's never going to be solved," Platt said, adding, "That's why we're doing this. It's a small step of doing something."

Defending the offer from the district, Isom said there has been low enrollment at the high school, causing the state to give the district less money.

"Kids generate money. That's the bottom line," Isom said, adding it isn't fair to compare Brawley to other districts that are growing while BUSD is not.

"Growing districts receive more money and can give more money," he said.

He added, "I think we've made them a fair offer."

Platt said the classified employees have been shown support by some teachers and a few parents.

He said many classified employees are not demonstrating because they are "afraid they're going to lose their jobs."

Platt said one employee received an anonymous call that if he demonstrated he would lose his job.

"The morale is down big time," he said. "We're not working to our ability. At breaks all we do is talk about this (contracts), and we don't concentrate on our work."

Both sides said they have "no idea" if the issue will go to impasse.

"We're hoping it resolves like this," Platt said, referring to the employees' demonstrations.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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