DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DOMESTIC DEPENDENTS ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS CAMP LEJEUNE DEPENDENTS SCHOOLS CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA and LEJEUNE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, FEDERAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, NEA

 

 

In the Matter of

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

DOMESTIC DEPENDENTS ELEMENTARY

AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS

CAMP LEJEUNE DEPENDENTS SCHOOLS

CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA

 

 

 

 

 

Case No. 97 FSIP 104

and

LEJEUNE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION,

FEDERAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, NEA

 

ARBITRATOR’S OPINION AND DECISION

      The Lejeune Education Association, Federal Education Association (FEA), NEA (LEA or Union) filed a request for assistance with the Federal Service Impasses Panel (Panel) to consider a negotiation impasse under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute), 5 U.S.C. § 7119, between it and the Department of Defense (DOD), Domestic Dependents Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS), Camp Lejeune Dependent Schools, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (CLDS or Employer). After the investigation of the request for assistance, the Panel directed the parties to mediation-arbitration with the undersigned. Accordingly, on September 18, 1997, the undersigned met with the parties at Camp Lejeune. At the outset, mediation efforts were made to assist them in resolving voluntarily the two issues at impasse. When they were unable to reach a mediated settlement, an arbitration hearing was conducted which provided the parties with a full opportunity to present arguments and evidence in support of their positions. At the conclusion of the hearing, they were afforded a final opportunity to modify their proposals and make any additional supporting arguments.

BACKGROUND

    The Employer operates eight schools for the purpose of educating the dependent children of military personnel stationed and residing at Camp Lejeune. The Union represents approximately 278 professional employees who are part of a consolidated bargaining unit of approximately 2,500 employees.(1) Unit employees work as classroom teachers, guidance counselors, information specialists, nurses, and occupational/physical therapists; their pay and benefits are subject to negotiations. For now, the parties are covered by a local CBA which is due to expire in November 1997; negotiations over a national CBA are ongoing.

ISSUES AT IMPASSE

    The parties disagree over: (1) salary for the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years (SY) and (2) compensation for "make-up days."(2)

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

1. Salary

    a. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer proposes a "2 percent increase [in] base pay" for SY 97-98.(3) It did not offer a proposal for SY 98-99 because it anticipates that a national pay schedule will be in place by then. This final offer of a 2-percent across-the-board pay increase is in addition to the 2-percent step increase which most teachers receive automatically.(4) In its view, CLDS teachers already are "overpaid." In this regard, no salary increase is called for as the salaries in all pay lanes exceed North Carolina salary scales, including those in the County of Onslow, where Camp Lejeune is located and competes for local talent. With an initial proposal of a 1 percent increase across the board, the difference in the pay of CLDS teachers and that of State public school teachers would range from a low of minus .05 percent to a high of 9.44 percent; in fact, the pay difference in most pay lanes is between 4 and 5 percent. Its 2-percent offer makes that percentage even more favorable for the LEA. Further, it expressed concern that, due to a decline in enrollment of 262 students, the DOD target budget reduces CLDS’s budget by 2.58 percent.

    Implementation of the Fort Bragg Schools (FBS) salary schedule,(5) as proposed by the Union, is inappropriate at this time. In this regard, before the FBS implemented its three-prong system, a comprehensive study was conducted by labor and management. Therefore, without a thorough study of the matter, it would not be prudent to adopt the FBS pay schedule. A CLDS study is not in negotiations at this time. Further, the CLDS Labor-Management Committee has determined to continue a pilot project on evaluations for SY 97-98. Finally, adoption of the FBS salary schedule would further widen the difference in pay between CLDS teachers and those of North Carolina public school teachers. The difference would range from a low of about 16 percent to a high of 33 percent.

    b. The Union’s Position

    The Union has a primary proposal and an alternative one. The primary proposal reads as follows:

Beginning with SY 97-98, CLDS unit members with 6 or more years teaching experience will be placed on the Fort Bragg CS [Career Status] II negotiated schedule at their appropriate step.(6) For example, those on salary schedule A will move to the Fort Bragg CS II A salary schedule at the years of experience that they currently hold for SY 96-97, plus one step. Once placed they will comply with the CS II requirements.

Current unit members with less than 6 years teaching experience will remain on the CLDS pay schedule until completion of six years teaching experience when they will be placed on the Fort Bragg CS II negotiated schedule at their appropriate step. While on the CLDS pay schedule, they will advance one step each year and the schedule shall be increased the same percent as the Fort Bragg scale each year. Once placed, they will comply with the CS II requirements.

Unit members hired after SY 97-98 will be placed on the Fort Bragg pay scale. They will follow the Fort Bragg process for placement on CS I and CS II.

As an alternative, the Union proposes the following:

For SY 97-98, the current salary schedule base will be increased on all cells 4.5 percent. The longevity will be increased an additional 2 percentage points for 10-14 years, 15-19 years, 20-24 years, and 25 years plus.

For SY 98-99, the salary schedule will be increased on [all] cells 3 percent unless the State of North Carolina offers a percentage rate higher than 3 percent. In that case, CLDS will offer the same percentage increase as the State. Salary raise[s] include bonus[es], if any.

All other CLDS pay practices not negotiated in this agreement will remain the same.

The two DDESS school systems in North Carolina should be under one pay schedule, the FBS schedule. This is consistent with DDESS’s move towards consolidating school systems within a same State under the supervision of one superintendent.(7) Such consolidations are being piloted in South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama. DDESS is also proposing a single pay system for all of its school systems in national level negotiations. Moreover, while CLDS has received its requested budget for the SY and receives more money per student than FBS (about $250 more per student), CLDS teachers are paid less than FBS teachers even though their of cost living is similar.(8)

    The FBS pay schedule is proposed because it recognizes teachers’ performance as well as their continuing education and qualifications. Also, it specifically addresses experienced teachers. The CLDS pay schedule, on the other hand, "penalizes" those teachers, even though the Employer’s expectations of them has increased because of larger class sizes and the availability of substantially fewer classroom aides. It is appropriate to "grandfather" teachers with 6 or more years of experience into the FBS pay system because they are already deeply involved in their career development and prepare extensive notebooks for their evaluations. And, less senior teachers would have time to meet additional requirements to move to the CS II salary schedule.

With regard to its alternative pay proposal, it is put forward in response to management’s concern over the absence of a peer evaluation system at CLDS and the fact that a study has not been completed.

2. "Make-Up Days" in SY 97-98

    a. The Employer’s Position

    The Employer’s proposal is as follows:

As professional employees, LEA employees are paid for 194 days, plus 9 Federal holidays, for a total of 203 days per school year. If LEA employees are required to perform instructional duties on a day otherwise in a pay status, no additional compensation will be provided. The time LEA employees spend with students on those days is paid time and in the regular course of their duties. The superintendent would agree to contact the Agency Head to request a waiver of the make-up day.

When student contact days must be made up, the time should come from teachers’ preparation and/or staff development days. Their salary includes payment for those days. Also, they would be paid for the missed instructional days when they are sent home early or asked not to come into work because of an emergency situation.

    b. The Union’s Position

    The Union proposes the following for SY 97-98:

In the event the current days in the school calendar [designated] for staff development and/or preparation time, including but not limited to, completing student grades, lesson plans, conferences, developing curriculum units, cooperative planning with other teachers, bulletin boards, copying, collating, room/file organization, progress reports, grading, maintaining portfolios, is replaced by management with student contact days, adversely impacted teachers will be permitted to work an additional day or days for those day(s) in order to receive/participate in staff development or as preparation time--as appropriate.

In addition, it proposes that for those "additional days," teachers will be paid their daily rates which "is determined by dividing the number of days required to be present in the current school calendar by the annual salary received, e.g., annual salary of $34,000 divided by 194 days [equals] the [teacher’s] daily rate."

    Any "make-up days" for lost instructional time due to weather or other emergencies should be in addition to the already scheduled 203 school days. If previously scheduled staff development and/or planning days are used to make up student contact days, teachers should be allowed to work additional days at their daily rate in order to take care of staff development and planning matters. Teachers are ready and able to work on all student contact days. Therefore, when management determines to close school and cancel classes for weather emergencies, teachers should not have to give up there staff development and/or planning time to make them up. That time is important to teachers because that is when they receive in-service training to enhance their skills, meet with other teachers concerning their students, and/or plan curricular programs.

CONCLUSIONS

    Careful consideration of the FBS salary schedule confirms that it is part of a comprehensive system which involves a systemic commitment to full peer mentorship and evaluation programs, including staff development programs with clinical supervision for career development of teachers designed to recognize and promote teachers within the profession. The salary schedule is a component of the system and includes a regular salary schedule, a Career Status I schedule which is the regular schedule plus a 4.5 percent salary increase, and a Career Status II which is comprised of the Career Status I (regular salary schedule plus 4.5 percent) and an additional 9.6 percent increase, for a total of 14.1 percent above the regular salary schedule. As the Employer pointed out in their evidence and arguments, implementation of such a program takes study by the affected parties as well as commitment to the full program and a plan for implementation. The arbitrator notes that while the issue is not in this forum, there is a review of the current CLDS teacher evaluation system in progress, and the LEA and CLDS have decided to continue that pilot for another year.

    To support their proposal of "grandfathering" teachers into the FBS system, the LEA stressed that many teachers already are deeply involved in their career development and prepare extensive notebooks for their evaluations. Based on the above discussion and a careful study of the evidence, however, the arbitrator is persuaded that much joint labor-management thought must be given to the design of an entire support, evaluation, and pay system, and that "grandfathering" employees into a system designed to meet the needs of another district is not in the best interests of the labor-management relationship. Therefore, the arbitrator must reject the Union’s primary proposal and encourage the parties to study the matter and develop a comprehensive system which fits their needs and continues to meet the educational goals for the students.

    Turning then to what would be the appropriate pay increase for teachers for the next two school years, the Employer argues that compared to Onslow County where Camp Lejeune is located and where it must compete for teachers, the teachers represented by LEA are "overpaid." This is because Onslow County provides lower pay rates and gives a lump sum longevity payment, rather than having longevity rolled into the schedule. Further, when CLDS salaries are calculated with a 1-percent increase (the Employer’s initial proposal) and are compared to the North Carolina average, the CLDS proposal exceeds not only the local county but also the State. Conversely, the Union contends that by statute the salaries are to be compared not only to the local county where the installation is located, but also to the State capital and to similar schedules in three other districts.

    While the evidence indicates that salaries for entry level positions at CLDS compare favorably, as the teachers’ education and experience increase, the CLDS salary schedule is less favorable and flattens out, becoming uncompetitive within the five North Carolina school districts cited, including those in the capital area. In analyzing the Employer’s proposal, the arbitrator finds that a 2 percent increase addresses the entry level and keeps those lanes and steps competitive, but would not provide competitive salaries for the experienced teacher, nor for the teacher with experience and higher degrees or certificates. On the other hand, the LEA alternative proposal of 4.5 percent would raise entry level salaries substantially above the comparable districts included in the record. However, the 2-percent additional increase for step 10 and higher would start to address the experienced teacher salary disparity. Additional factors which are persuasive in the overall salary question are that class size has increased somewhat over the last several years, and teachers no longer have classroom aides to assist with the class preparation and carrying out of educational instruction, making it clear that the workload has increased.

    Accordingly, based on the relevant comparisons of teacher schedules and all the evidence, the arbitrator finds that an additional 3 percent schedule increase on all steps provides for a competitive entry level and begins to address the pay disparity at the more experienced levels. To further address the experience and education disparities which emerge when comparing the various school districts, the arbitrator also shall order the adoption of the Union’s proposal for an additional 2-percent longevity increase. Finally with respect to the salary issue, the arbitrator adopts the Union’s proposal for SY 98-99 of 3 percent on the salary schedule, or the increase offered to public school teachers by the State of North Carolina, whichever is higher.

    With regard to second issue of make-up time for emergency situations, the arbitrator is persuaded by the Union’s arguments that staff development and planning days are as valuable professionally, and as necessary for student success, as student contact or instructional days. The Union’s proposal, however, is troubling because it appears to require the Employer to extend the number of days in the school year or calendar and, therefore, it is likely nonnegotiable.(9) Therefore, the arbitrator shall order a provision requiring the Employer to give teachers additional compensation equal to their daily rate when they are required to provide instruction to students on a day set aside earlier as a noninstructional day (i.e., a staff development or planning day). The additional pay is warranted because teachers will have to take care of matters normally performed on those days on their own time.

DECISION

    The parties shall adopt the following:

1. Salary

a. The across-the-board pay increase for SY 97-98 will be 3 percent. Teachers with 10 or more years of experience will receive an additional 2 percent longevity increase as proposed by the Union. All other CLDS pay practices not negotiated will remain the same.

b. The across-the-board pay increase for SY 98-99 will be 3 percent or the North Carolina State increase, whichever is higher. All other CLDS pay practices not negotiated will remain the same.

2. "Make-up Days" in SY 97-98

The Employer shall give teachers additional compensation equal to their daily rate when they are required to provide instruction to students on a day set aside earlier as a non-instructional day (i.e., a staff development or planning day).

 

Bonnie Prouty Castrey

Arbitrator

October 9, 1997

Huntington Beach, California

 

1.On January 11, 1996, DOD, DDESS and FEA, NEA, entered into a memorandum of understanding wherein they agreed to: (1) consolidate all professional and nonprofessional bargaining units represented by FEA (Case No. WA-UC-50033); (2) continue all local collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs) until one is negotiated nationally; and (3) continue to negotiate pay locally until a national pay schedule is negotiated. On February 3, 1997, in Case No. WA-RP-70005, the Federal Labor Relations Authority’s Washington Regional Office certified FEA, NEA as the exclusive representative of the DDESS professional employees.

2.This issue relates to the Employer’s designation of certain staff development and preparation days in SY 97-98 as instructional days (also referred to as student contact days) should it become necessary for students to make up school days lost due to, e.g., weather emergencies. The issue originally was included in a second Union-filed request for assistance, Case No. 97 FSIP 101. During the Panel Staff’s initial investigation of the requests for assistance, the Union agreed to withdraw the request in Case No. 97 FSIP 101 because the make-up time issue was also included as part of the instant case.

3.The Employer’s initial offer was for a 1-percent increase, which eventually was changed to 2 percent following mediation.

4.Teachers who have worked less than 6 months i