Diesel Power Technology instructor Brent Delfel (left) and Automotive Technology instructor Richie del Puerto are Sno-Isle Tech Center teachers. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Diesel Power Technology instructor Brent Delfel (left) and Automotive Technology instructor Richie del Puerto are Sno-Isle Tech Center teachers. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Sno-Isle Tech teachers finally get their pay raise

After months of talks, the instructors secured an agreement for 18 percent raises this school year.

MUKILTEO — There were no pickets, no protests and not much public pressure.

But Monday night, teachers at the Sno-Isle Technical Skills Center secured what they had been pursuing quietly for months — raises in line with double-digit hikes netted by thousands of public school instructors in Snohomish and Island counties last year.

Sno-Isle Tech teachers will receive 18 percent pay hikes under a revised collective bargaining agreement approved Monday night by the Mukilteo School Board. The increase is retroactive to Sept. 1 and applies to the base pay of 21 teachers.

It will boost starting pay for a new instructor with a Career and Technical Education certificate from the current $44,595 to $50,819, according to the teachers union. At the other end of the scale, a teacher with at least 12 years’ experience and a master’s degree will earn $98,674, up from $86,588. Their rate of additional pay for “time, responsibility and incentive” is unchanged.

The school’s teachers, who are represented by the American Federation of Teachers, also will receive wage increases for inflation in each of the next two school years.

The two sides began negotiations in September and reached agreement earlier this month. The changes will be made to the current contract, which runs through Aug. 31. Pay hikes will be covered with money funneled to the district as a result of the McCleary school funding lawsuit.

“We are happy to have this resolved,” said Andy Muntz, spokesman for the Mukilteo School District. “I am sure the teachers are happy to have this resolved as well.”

Teachers are too, though it’s not an all-out victory. Even with the increase, they will continue to earn less than teachers with similar experience in every school district served by the skill center.

“We’re very grateful that it’s done. It was a very grueling four months,” said Jim Bassett, a bargaining team member who teaches video game design and programming. “We made some great progress and we’ll continue to work on it.”

Lee Anne Lumsden, another bargaining team member who’s taught at the center for a total of 23 years, said it was “an amiable process but not a truly equitable outcome. I think I’m sad.”

Inequities are a result of the “awkward” funding system for skill centers, she said. “It needs to be addressed and fixed.”

Sno-Isle Tech, located near Paine Field in Everett, is a cooperative effort of 14 local school districts and serves high school students in Snohomish and Island counties. There are 14 skill centers in the state that provide preparatory training, certification and post-secondary credit.

The Mukilteo School District is the host district for Sno-Isle Tech and thus responsible for negotiating labor agreements.

From the outset, negotiations with the skill center teachers traveled a much different course than those with the Mukilteo Education Association which represents roughly 1,000 teachers.

After lawmakers steered billions of additional dollars into public schools for teacher salaries to meet its McCleary mandate, the association began pushing to renegotiate its contract to get its members’ share of money bound for the district.

In the course of four months, Mukilteo teachers conducted informational pickets outside schools, packed board meetings, took a no-confidence vote in the superintendent, and authorized a strike before reaching a deal in August for increases which averaged 13 percent.

But the raise didn’t flow through to skill center teachers because they are represented by a different union and had to bargain separately.

They made their case at a November board meeting but didn’t receive a response from directors or the superintendent.

“Because we are only 22 teachers we didn’t have the same voice or impact when bargaining,” Bassett said.

Muntz said the district always wanted to update the salary schedule.

“There was no question we would negotiate with them,” he said. “Sometimes these things take longer than expected.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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