Collective Bargaining In Columbia, Mo.
In 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court decided that teachers have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Since then, approximately 30 school districts in the state have entered into a formal collective bargaining agreement (we have posted those documents here). Last year, the Columbia School District became the latest to enter into a collective bargaining agreement when the district and the Columbia Missouri National Education Association (CMNEA) bargained a one-year contract. Now, they are back at the negotiating table.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the main bargaining point right now is “making up one year of frozen pay increases.” A few years ago, the district was unable to afford pay raises and instead “froze” teachers’ pay for two years. Thus, any teacher who is currently in the district and was there during the freeze is two steps behind on the salary schedule. Experienced teachers the district hired, however, were able to bring in all of their experience. This has resulted in different levels of pay for two teachers with the same level of experience.
As an illustration, look at the graph above. This chart displays the salary schedule for a teacher with a master’s degree in Columbia and other surrounding school districts for the 2012-13 school year (N. Callaway, S. Boone, Moniteau schedules are from 2013-14). As you can see, after the first couple of years, Columbia teachers should earn significantly more than other area teachers. However, the 67 percent of teachers, according to the CMNEA, who were impacted by the freeze are two steps behind where they should be (dashed line). Even with the “freeze,” the frozen teachers are still earning more than most of their neighboring peers.
According to the Columbia Daily Tribune report, the CMNEA polled its members to determine if they wanted to boost all salaries or make up the frozen steps. The former would give raises to all teachers, while the latter would only impact the 67 percent of teachers who were impacted by the salary freeze. Interestingly, 80 percent of CMNEA members “asked the bargaining team to prioritize restoration of the steps” over adding money to the base.
It may seem strange for teachers who were not impacted by the freeze to vote to restore steps, but if you know your teacher research literature, this doesn’t really come as a shock. Cuky Perez, of Stanford University, conducted a behavioral experiment and found that female teachers were relatively averse to pay inequities. That is, they are not comfortable with co-workers earning different amounts. That may be a contributing reason we have these poorly designed salary schedules.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this shakes out in Columbia.