An Open Letter to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Board Members on Why the Proposed UTD/MDCPS Contract Addendum of Nov 2013 Should NOT Be Ratified

Short Link: http://shawnbeightol.com/blog/?p=620
Dear Board Members:
I know that tomorrow you are slated to vote in the new MDCPS/UTD contract.
The problems I see with this contract are
1)  I do not believe the net recurring increase (RAISE vs bonus) is near $2500 for most employees.  When rebutted with the information that Rick Scott/Legislators didn’t send enough money, to me I see that the most recent FEFP shows a total increase in MDCPS’ funding over last year of $137 Million, which follows last year’s increase over the previous year of $113 Million.  I also question the REQUIREMENT of MDCPS to shave $10 Million off for charter schools.  As I quoted in an email to some of my colleagues:  ”I believe the $10 million cut to charters is voluntary and negotiable (see Q9, http://www.fsba.org/userfiles/File/TeacherPayIncreaseQ-A.pdf ),  also the $2500 must be added to each step (Q13 of the same doc.), and should be recurring (RTTT bonuses are not, see Q15),”
Furthermore, a simple question to my charter school acquaintances of their knowledge of raises due to this $10 million transfer from MDCPS to charter schools was met with blank faces.  Are Charter School teachers going to see a raise from this?
2) Whatever gain we are seeing in the financial movement (step, bonus, etc), we are losing to healthcare.  If I stay on OAP20, I will have to pay $2700 more for my family’s healthcare.  If I move to the Local Plus (for which a description was NOT provided with the final proposed agreement), I will lose my primary care physician who I’ve had for years and my college town kids will have difficulty finding “local” physicians that are on Local Plus.  But this isn’t about me, its about the bargaining unit (including support staff who are seeing a 2.3% increase ~ $4-500 per year)…On average, anyone staying on OAP20 will see an increase in premiums of $1200; on OAP10, an increase of $1600; and even if they switch to the UNDESCRIBED/UNDEFINED Local Plus from OAP20, their premiums will go up an average of $455, easily eating up any support staff’s family’s meager increase in pay.  This is just for PREMIUMS.  Under the new terms of service/costs, the average annual healthcare costs will go up anywhere from $2800 (individual) to $7100 (family of 4) as projected from Merrill Lynch’s projected healthcare costs for next year.
The worst part about this is that these astronomical healthcare premium and service spikes (29% avg increase in premiums and 63-84% increase in costs) are double the national averages according to the NY Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/business/survey-finds-modest-rise-in-health-insurance-premiums.html).  Objections that South Florida doesn’t compare to the national scene fall flat for next year when ACA/”Obamacare” competition among vendors projects the LOWEST healthcare costs in Florida, right here in Miami! (http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/25/3650863/south-florida-insurance-rates.html).
The only sense I can make out of this is that MDCPS is following the unethical practice of many corporations of pushing out the insured and dependents in order to lower costs:

the Transitional Reinsurance Program…will charge health insurers and self-insured employers (that is, companies that provide their own insurance = MDCPS) $63 per person covered on their plans… Employers and insurers, already saddled with their own rising health care costs, are likely to pass those fees on to consumers in the form of rate increases, Darling says.” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-health-exchanges-wont-tell-you-2013-09-27?pagenumber=7

furthermore,

“By [discouraging] coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 “per life” covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014.”…and “when employers drop spouses, they often [save on] more than just the one individual, when couples choose instead to seek coverage together under the other partner’s employer”…”companies drive spouses away using other tactics, such as making spousal coverage prohibitively expensive through higher surcharges or by making reimbursement rates so low that spouses can’t afford the plans.”http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-your-boss-is-dumping-your-wife-2013-02-22

To those who would point to the percentage of Employees “enjoying” the “free, employee only” insurance, I would counter with “yes, you have driven the family members away to other plans where it is still cheaper to keep one spouse on MDCPS.”  But this is the result of intentional cost inflation to drive the families away to either NO INSURANCE or lower quality insurance in many cases.
3) Errors/Contradictions/Omissions?
a)  As stated, the official links to the proposed contract changes (Including the shift of the “no cost” individual employee insurance plan from OAP20 to Local Plus) do NOT include a description of this plan.
b) Credential Payments:
i) Appendix E. Section 2.B.2.n – I cannot figure out what this refers to…switching back from part-time hourly (AT/AU) to nurses’ schedule?  I think they mean 2.B.2.m.  If so, this is in error.
ii) I cannot find the Credential Payment schedule repeatedly referred to in the proposed changes.  Either that means (and doesn’t explain) that the credential payment schedule is the same as before or that a yet to be defined Credential Schedule will be revealed (via MOU?).  If the latter, this is very open-ended and could be financially damaging to many who are reliant upon credentials.  If the former, it is not clear.
c) Article XII-Hiring E.5 “Teachers who are assigned to teach Career and Technical Education courses shall possess an applicable industry certification.  Current employees who fail to satisfy this requirement prior to June 30, 2015 shall be terminated.”  It appears this language is contradictory in part to the FDOE memo dated 9/9/11 from Loretta Costin, Chancellor, Division of Career and Adult Education, page 2, Q&A, Q2. “Is this legislation (section 1012.39) retroactive? No, the legislation is not retroactive…the additional qualification of ‘Documentation’…does not apply to teachers who were issued local district-issued teacher certificates prior to July 1, 2011″ – a phone call to the number provided in the memo affirms that the district cannot impose a more stringent requirement than what the state has set.  I know from multiple conversations that this is not clear in the contract and may be a mistake or at least a vagueness that will cost tax-payers to clarify via grievance or judicial challenges.
d) Article XXI Section 1(A) is STILL in violation of Florida law, as determined by PERC in 2010 ( ) with these FINAL ORDERS: Both UTD and MDCPS are “Prohibited from “Negotiating, administering, and maintaining Article XXI, Section 1(A), Subsections 2, 3, and 5, of the collective bargaining agreement insofar as they discriminate against employees who are not members of the United Teachers of Dade” – yet the outlawed contract language is being maintained VERBATIM in the current contract.  It must be changed.
To those who would argue that the bargaining unit has spoken, I would counter with this:  at the very best, 44% of the bargaining unit did NOT cast a yes vote.  At the very worst, suspicions of the numbers come into play considering the history of UTD and its multiple convictions of conducting illegal ratifications (June 2011, August 2011, February 2012 were shown IN COURT to be insecure and and impossible to verify the veracity of the results).
Consider also there are 2 pending legal actions against UTD alleging voting fraud/manipulation in the successive 2010 and 2013 officer elections, one a consortium of UTD candidates for office that originally included outgoing UTD Vice-President Artie Leichner as CO-PLAINTIFF:
BUSH, JAMES (III) vs UNITED TEACHERS OF DADE
Case Number (LOCAL): 2013-6290-CA-01 Filing Date: 02/20/2013
Case Number (STATE): 13-2013-CA-006290-0000-01 CaseType: 81
Consolidated Case Number: N/A Judicial Section: 05
Party Code Party Name
PN 01 BUSH, JAMES (III)
PN 02 SMITH, CERESTA
PN 03 LEICHNER, ARTIE

This evidence of this case above has been added to CASE NO.: 10-24454CA21, IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA

EUGENIO PEREZ, AND INGRID ARENAS,
Plaintiffs,
VS.
UNITED TEACHERS OF DADE, LOCAL 1974, AND KAREN ARONOWITZ,
Defendants,   alleging voting fraud/ballot box stuffing in the 2010 officer election.  Here is an excerpt:
“The core allegation in the case – Defendants rigged the 2010 election of union officers - can be proven or disproven only through release of the electronic voting records in the possession of VoteNet, which is located in Washington, D.C.   Predecessor Judge Caballero ordered the release of the records subject to a court approved confidentiality order, after which certiorari on the issue was denied by the 3rd DCA. Although the Superior Court in Washington has assured Plaintiffs that the records will be released, VoteNet has indicated – once again, as it has previously – that it will not release the records until resolution of this latest issue.
Further, because of Defendants’ 23 motions for stay or delay (each requiring a special set hearing), and because of an initial 22 months for exhaustion of union internal administrative remedies, the sequel 2013 election has come and gone. VoteNet was again retained to conduct the election, although this time paper ballots were used. No observer physically present was permitted to be close enough to visually ascertain the accuracy of the count of paper ballots.
Notwithstanding, and using Defendants’ documents, the ballot box was demonstrably stuffed once again. According to the union-certified election results, the total votes recorded as cast for president exceeded the number of ballots by 365. Although 7,602 votes were counted for president, there were only 7,237 ballots. Not enough paper ballots were distributed to equal the amount of votes tallied by Defendants. Similarly, the total votes declared to have been cast for vice-president exceeded the number of ballots distributed by 493. Although 1,496 votes were counted for vice-president, only 1,003 ballots were collected.
Again, not enough paper ballots were distributed to equal the amount of votes tallied by Defendants.
As a result, Plaintiffs have moved to amend their complaint to incorporate another round of election misbehavior. Meanwhile, Defendants continue perniciously to obstruct compliance with this Court’s decision to require production of records relevant to fraud in the first election.”
It is the sum total of these and many earlier unchallenged but questionable ratification outcomes that result in many questioning the veracity of a this current vote that results in a net loss to employees, but are stuck in a ratification system free from having to show site by site results for verification purposes.
For these reasons, I would ask you to consider sending the contract language BACK to the negotiation teams to clean it up, tighten it up, and to make it more economically beneficial to the hardworking MDCPS employees who do the work that IS the reason this whole system with its burgeoning bureaucracy exists.  Grant the steps increased with RECURRING raises so that every teacher/student services employee sees the as close to $2500 as possible, move the support staff along their step system with a COLA adjusted (raise) to their step, and hold the line on healthcare, knowing that next year, the costs are projected to be the lowest in the state as a consequence of the competition spawned by ACA/”Obamacare.”  Finally, fix the language of the contract so that it is compliant/congruent with Florida Statutes and Administrative Code.
Regards,
Shawn Beightol
Chemistry Teacher,
John A Ferguson “Teacher of the Year”!
CC: David Smiley, Miami Herald
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