Camas schools, classified workers reach deal

Contract includes cost of living adjustments, tool stipends for mechanics

The Camas School Board this week approved a three-year bargaining contract with the SEIU 1948 Public School Employees of Camas union that represents the district’s hundreds of classified workers.

The two groups had been bargaining since June 19, and Marilyn Boerke, the school district’s director of talent development, told school board members Monday night at the board’s regular meeting that she was pleased by the end results of the contract bargaining sessions.

“I was thrilled with the way the negotiations went,” Boerke said, praising the union’s leaders. “You could see how passionate people are about their work they do and about each other.”

The Public School Employees (PSE) union leaders said Monday their group hadn’t had a chance to sign the bargaining agreement, but that union members had already approved the contract language.

The new three-year contract covers PSE employees from Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2022, and includes more time off for long-term employees, raises throughout the contract’s three years, more money for professional development and a $500 stipend for school district mechanics who use their own tools in the course of their work repairing district equipment.

“We wanted to honor our long-term employees so we are offering a third, fully paid personal day for employees who have (worked for the district) for 15 years,” Boerke said.

The new 2019-22 classified employee salary schedule also includes cost of living adjustments of between 1.5 and 2 percent depending on the employee’s longevity and the year of the contract.

Lorraine Schmid, president of the Camas PSE, said union leaders looked at the wage increase, bump in staff-development funding and retention of past contract improvements as gains for the district’s classified employees.

Schmid added that she, like Boerke, was pleased by the style of negotiating between the two parties.

“A key development was in the bargaining style, which can be credited to our fellow unions who negotiated before us,” Schmid told the Post-Record in an emailed statement. “In past PSE negotiations, the chief negotiator from each side would communicate for their representatives. This year, every voice in the room was heard and respected.  PSE was able to give their perspectives from an employee’s firsthand experience. The open communication, though sometimes hard, helped bridge the gap between a philosophy of ‘us and them.’ The goal of Camas PSE is to have our voices heard, be valued and contribute positivity to our community.”

The new salary schedule for the school district’s classified employees shows a full range of salaries, from the $13.50 an hour earned by a first-year community education support employee to the $43.73 per hour earned by a 25-year systems engineer. Most salaries in the middle are around $26 an hour. A bus driver who has worked for the district for at least four years, for instance, earns $26.28 an hour, and a third-year warehouse delivery employee earns $25.01 per hour.