School district, employees OK contract

Deal gives Washougal’s non-teacher employees a 5-percent salary bump

Mike Stromme

More than one month after going into mediation over contract bargaining conflicts, the Washougal School District and its classified employees have come to an agreement.

The 2017-2019 contract, approved by the district last week and ratified by the Washougal chapter of the Public School Employees association on Nov. 27, gives a 5-percent salary increase to the school district’s non-educator employees, which include bus drivers, cafeteria workers, para-educators, library assistants, bus mechanics, custodians, groundskeepers, secretaries and other support staff

In October, Brenda Brock, Washougal’s chapter president of the Public School Employees of Washington, SEIU 1948, said the union and school district had hit a stumbling block and were headed into mediation.

“We’ve met 12 times and can’t come to an agreement,” Brock said in mid-October.

The two groups met in mediation for the first time on Nov. 8.

The classified employees had been working without a contract since Sept. 1, after their former two-year contract expired on Aug. 31.

One of the sticking points in October centered around job rate adjustments, with the the district proposing a 2.7-percent across-the-board increase in lieu of job-title adjustments, and the employees’ association holding out for per-hour increases for various job titles, including $2 an hour increases for dispatchers and early learning professionals and $1 an hour pay bumps for paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, warehouse employees and others.

The new contract gives a 2.7-percent across-the-board salary increase and 2.3-percent cost of living adjustment, for a total increase of 5 percent.

In a press release issued Dec. 13, the district said the new agreement also gives “specific job-title pay increases for paraprofessionals, warehouse person, dispatchers and early learning staff over a two-year period.”

Washougal School District Superintendent Mike Stromme said the district appreciates the support the classified employees give to students, staff and Washougal families throughout the school year.

“Their commitment to educating all Washougal children and supporting teachers and families is evident as they are often the first to greet students in the morning, support teaching and student learning throughout the school day and are often the last to see students as they head home.”