Madera Unified School District, Madera Unified Teachers Association, California Service Employees Association and the Madera School Board of Trustees are about to embark on a journey the public will have to bear with dissatisfaction and a division among our neighbors that will disrupt the educational process for our children this year.
Let’s look at the carnage a strike action causes to any community: First, if a strike does occur at MUSD both sides will lose, with our community households suffering the most. Families will be torn apart on this issue, family incomes will be hurt, local business revenues will decrease, education for the youth will be at a standstill and it will take years to mend MUSD, MUTA, CSEA, School Board and the community back together as a single unit for our children.
When we ask each other, who are the individuals responsible for creating this turmoil within our educational system and community over MUSD labor issues? The answer is a simple one. It is all the parties involved.
When you look at the time taken over the last two years, with no compromise being made by all parties involved, it becomes a sad state of affairs when one realizes it is over one economic issue — heath benefits.
Two years ago the financial stability of both the district and employees’ household incomes was in protection mode because of our country’s economic woes. They both were worried what would happen to the district and the livelihood while trying to survive during this extended economic downturn with a flat economic recovery.
Now we are in a position to take time and briefly explain why the community should support status quo on health and welfare benefits for the employees of MUSD and board members who carry the district’s heath insurance plan. They have not had a cost of living raise in five years, they have had to take furlough days that have decreased their take-home income, they have seen their fellow employees being laid off, knowing they would not return, employees have had additional responsibilities added to their assigned duties to shore up the district, and they have given everything to keep our district afloat for our children.
How is it possible for us to ask the employees of MUSD to give more? When a major rebound has occurred in school funding from Sacramento, new businesses are coming to town with population growth bringing additional ADA funds? As well as the cost of the district’s insurance for employees has dropped by 4.6 percent this year?
The district budgeted for the next three years by adding a projected 5 percent increase for insurance costs. Meaning the first year out 2013-14 the district is saving 9.6 percent on insurance cost. Most school districts in the state are giving their employees raises. Ours are asking for nothing than what they already have.
We as a community of neighbors need to be humble with gratitude for the sacrifices our employees and administration have made for our children’s education over the last five years. If it comes to a strike we need to support our MUSD employees, walk or honk the picked lines, stop and say thank you for all you have given to our families. The employees of MUSD deserve the only thing they have been asking for — Status Quo on their heath insurance. With full support, if they have to strike, this individual will not fault them. MUSD employees, rock on.
Lynn Cogdill, MUSD trustee,