BENTE Union Update (11-3-21) -- Retro Pay, Hiring Incentives, Other Updates

BENTE Union Update (11-3-21) -- Retro Pay, Hiring Incentives, Other Updates
November 3, 2021

RETROACTIVE PAY: We still do not have a date as to when the retroactive pay will be paid out and I have contacted the superintendent in an effort to move it to the forefront. The District owes you retroactive pay for any hours you worked between July 1, 2021 and September 11, 2021 as part of the terms of the negotiated contract. The raises were implemented as of September 12. 

Please understand that this is not an issue that is exclusive to the BENTE union. The teachers settled their contract in July of 2020 and they waited 10 months before receiving their retroactive pay. It doesn’t excuse the fact that the District should pay it sooner and that it shouldn’t take this long, but it is not a deliberate attempt to disrespect our bargaining unit. It is a processing issue. None of us are happy about the length of time it is taking for workers to receive the money we negotiated to be paid back to July 1. We are doing everything we can to put pressure on the District to expedite the process.  

As soon as we are provided with a date, we will let everyone know. You are owed this money and the District must pay it.  

TRANSPORTATION: The Union and the District have come to terms on an agreement involving recruitment incentives for new Bus Drivers and retention incentives for members who have a job that requires a CDL in Transportation, Food Services, Grounds, and the Distribution Center. The agreement is attached. 

Anyone interested in becoming a Bus Driver should contact the BENTE union office at 458-8670 so we can inform the District of your interest in being trained to take the test to obtain a Commercial Driver's License. 

Transportation Incentives Channel 10 News 

SCHOOL STAFFING: We continue to lack staff in the areas of Food Services, Custodial, Security, Clerical, and Bus Drivers and recruitment efforts continue. For the 2021-2022 school year, the District is offering up to 200 employees who refer an individual to the District who thereafter becomes a School Bus Driver, Clerical, Custodial, Food Services, School Safety Officer, Paraprofessional, or Teaching Assistant for the District a one-time bonus of $100.00 after the hired candidate successfully completes 6 months of employment. Only the first employee to initiate the referral for the hired candidate shall receive the referral bonus. The hired staff member must indicate the referral in writing to the Office of Human Capital at the time of hiring. 

A new “Jobs” category has been added to the BENTE website so members can access job postings through the District.  

DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING: We are currently in a dispute with the District regarding the Day Before Thanksgiving as it relates to 12-month employees. The Union maintains that the language and the intent of the language to pay all employees for the Day Before Thanksgiving does not mean that employees have to report to work to be paid. The District disagrees, and so the Union has filed a grievance on the matter. 

This will not affect 10-month or 11-month employees as the District is not disputing that they will be paid for the Day Before Thanksgiving while not being required to report to work. 

ASAR members and members of the Superintendent’s Group are required to report to work on the Day Before Thanksgiving, so the District is stating that it will be necessary to have some coverage in the buildings. Absent that, if you are a 12-month employee and would like the day off, you should request the time off.  

We offered the District a solution: Provide the 12-month staff with an additional personal day as opposed to the day off with pay for the Day Before Thanksgiving. They failed to respond to our proposal.  

Due to the lack of response, the Union has filed to take the case to arbitration, and we are in the process of scheduling a date with the arbitrator.  

COVID TESTING: There are currently 35 BENTE members who have not submitted proof of vaccination or weekly testing. That number is down from over 500 prior to the opening of schools. Meetings will be held with the 35 individuals this week to make certain they understand the policy and the need to comply or face the District placing them on an unpaid leave of absence. 

Thanks to everyone who helped a fellow staff member with submitting information that enabled every worker to comply with the policy. 

SAFETY & SECURITY: We have joined with the other unions to address violence in the schools, with several solutions that need to be taken seriously before something tragic happens.  

We are extremely disappointed in the Board of Education for approving an outside contractor at the eleventh hour to provide additional security outside the buildings at the tune of $160,000 for 35 days. The Board stated that the contract will be temporary until we can hire more School Safety Officers, and that a class of recruits will take place this month. Still, this is a colossal waste of money meant to give a false sense of security and it was voted on in the middle of the night, with Commissioner Maloy being the only Board Member to vote it down. The Board tabled the resolution to have police at arrival and dismissal times in order to have time for more public input, yet they jammed this contract through without any conversation. 

We are pushing for similar recruitment and retention incentives for security staff, who are doing an amazing job given all the problems with the level of violence that has spilled into the schools from the streets.  

Security, Spectrum News 

Safety Concerns, Channel 10 News 

Violence In Schools, Lonsberry 

ADDITIONAL PERSONAL DAY: The additional personal day that was negotiated for all BENTE bargaining unit members is in the process of being loaded. If any member needs to utilize the day prior to it appearing in their time and labor, please contact our office to let us know. 

CONGRATULATIONS TO: Angelic Mendez, Bilingual School Secretary at #52 School who has been appointed to the BENTE position of Elementary Unit Chairperson and Stacia Goldberg, School Secretary at #23 School who has been appointed to the position of BENTE Trustee.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS INFORMATION: The open enrollment period started November 1 and will run until November 30 (letter attached). Open Enrollment is the time to review your medical/dental insurance, make changes, remove and/or add eligible dependents and enroll in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Any changes to any of your benefits will require you to submit open enrollment information. Plan comparisons are available here.

For more information on Employee Benefits: Employee Benefits.

Thank you for everything you do, and please understand that we fight for everyone equally, and we have repeatedly tried to advocate for additional incentives and pay for all bargaining unit members. There are certain times when the District will only work with us in one area due to an immediate need, and we will negotiate for that unit specifically. It does not take away from the fact that through the years, we have consistently negotiated for the majority while making strides in each individual unit whenever we see an opportunity to do so. 

We value the jobs that all of you perform, and we consider it a privilege to be able to advocate for every single worker in the Union.  

In Solidarity,   

Dan DiClemente, President   

BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419  

“The Support Staff that Supports Students”  

Open Enrollment Information
Bus Driver Incentives
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