Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daily Grind

The DSEA position on salary cuts remains unchanged. We are opposed to any concessions that involve a salary cut, even if that cut is only 2.5%. First, we need to remember that we have many low wage members: paraprofessionals, food service, and bus drivers for example. These hard working people have very little disposable income and yes, 2.5% is a big deal for them. Second, a salary cut establishes pay reduction as a legitimate budget balancing tool for years to come. Every economic downturn could bring another trimming of pay. Third, the decision to cut salaries was made without a sincere exploration of raising substantive and sustainable revenue. Fourth, education employees and state workers are already contributing to the solution. Our health care premiums have increased 50%, step increases are frozen, and many facilities are working under staffed. Employees with family coverage under the PPO are losing about $800 a year in premium increase. Finally, we are a union and we believe in an equal exchange of labor for pay. We do not want our people working as hard or harder for less, even if it is a small percentage less.

Many legislators understand our position. In fact, as things stand to date, in spite of the JFC vote, the Governor does not have the votes to pass a budget with the salary cuts.

DSEA entered testimony in committee on two bills today. In the House Education Committee we testified in favor of HB30 by Representative Earl Jaques. This bill increases the school assessment fee paid by developers in the Appoquinimik School District. The assessment for the rest of Delaware has been a .5 multiplier. However, for Appo this is not sufficient to keep up with the rapid growth. The rate of 1.2 is the proposed multiplier. This should ease the financial burden somewhat.

In the House Administration Committee DSEA testified on HB220 by Representative Melanie Marshall. HB220 is a bill that proposes adding the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court to the State Employee Benefits Committee. DSEA testified that the bill should be amended to include representatives of the thousands of state employees insured in the plan. We want to see the SEBC expanded to include a representative of DSEA, AFSCME, the Troopers, and a retired at large. Currently, the governance of state employee benefits is in the hands of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Insurance Commissioner, the State Treasurer, the Controler General, the Secretary of Finance, and the Secretary of Health and Social Services.
Tomorrow, Representative Longhurst will put her bill (HB157) protecting the right of teachers on FMLA leave to return to their exact same teaching position on the floor of the House. DSEA will be present to lend support.

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