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Friday, September 29, 2023
Sept. 29, 2023

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Union at Evergreen Public Schools approves new contract

Approval ends months of negotiations; wages, training increased

By , Columbian staff writer

The Public School Employees large group union in Evergreen Public Schools ratified a new contract Wednesday evening, ending months of negotiations between union leaders and district officials.

The union — which represents approximately 1,000 classified staff members in the district, including about 650 paraeducators — had been without a contract since the previous one expired Aug. 31. That contract was extended to accommodate union members while bargaining continued. Voting took place between noon and 6 p.m. at Evergreen High School on Wednesday; an estimated 586 votes were tallied, according to a union member.

The next move will be for the Evergreen board of directors to approve the ratified deal.

The approved contract is unchanged from the last deal offered to union membership on Oct. 13. It provides wage increases for all union members, including a 12 percent increase for all paraeducators in the first year of the deal. The IPD, also known as a cost of living adjustment, is a figure used to measure inflation and was adopted in Washington in 2018 as a way to adjust salary allocations for school employees based on year-to-year change. The IPD was 5.5 percent for the 2022-2023 school year, which has already been built into the newly-ratified contract.

In the second and third years of the deal, further salary increases will be 3 percent plus the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD) in 2023-2024 and 1 percent plus the IPD in 2024-2025. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction latest projection, as of March 2022, is that the IPD in 2023-2024 will be 2 percent, followed by 2.1 percent in 2024-2025.

Professional technicians, service workers, maintenance workers and mechanics are set to receive a 6 percent raise in the first year of the deal, followed by 1 percent salary increases in each of the following two years in addition to the Implicit Price Deflator. Transportation workers such as bus drivers are set to get 5 percent salary increases in the first year plus 1 percent raises in each of the following years also in addition to the Implicit Price Deflator and additional pay incentives for employees with longer tenures.

The contract also provides general education paraeducators with a paid three-hour-long de-escalation training session. Union members are also set to receive one additional personal leave day for school-year employees with five or more years of service; totaling three personal leave days during the school year.

The full details of the new contract can be found on Evergreen’s website at https://sites.google.com/evergreenps.org/human-resources/pse-large-group-bargaining-update?authuser=0.

Paraeducators in the district had grown more vocal about wages and staffing shortages in recent months, with multiple protests outside the district office and speaking out during the public comment portion of board meetings. Under the previous contract, Evergreen paraeducators were being paid less per hour than comparable positions in Vancouver Public Schools and Battle Ground Public Schools.