News

District, employess OK contract

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

Finally, the Public School Employees of Enumclaw and the Enumclaw School District have a contract.

The Enumclaw School Board ratified the agreement at its March 29 regular meeting. PSE members also gave the contract the thumbs up and then signed off on Thursday.

According to Enumclaw School District human resources director LeaAnna Portmann, the two-year contract is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2003. And although complete, it does have openers, the first set this spring for compensation.

The district and PSE have been operating under the old contract for several months, with the expiration date for that arrangement looming on the horizon.

Enumclaw PSE President Lillian Weygandt said her group, consisting of approximately 277 support employees, settled the non-money issues.

"We settled for less than we wanted," Weygandt said.

"We're ready to get on. They'd (PSE employees) like more, of course. Did they get what they wanted? No. But we're moving on."

Both sides agreed negotiations had been tough. The two sides have been in mediation for several months and gone to the bargaining table many times.

Classified employees picketed the Nov. 17 Enumclaw School Board asking for a cost-of-living adjustment.

Rising healthcare costs was a sticking issue.

Weygandt said PSE employees are hoping the Legislature will cover some of that issue. She said PSE employees were also glad to see the state come through with a 1 percent pay increase, although it was half what they wanted.

Another plus for PSE employees, Portmann said, is the district will now provide additional pay, much like it does for certificated staff, for additional study. There are specifics, but, she said, it was important, as a learning organization, to recognize and value that attribute.

The first set of openers is expected to begin soon. The district is currently negotiating with teachers. Portmann said she is hopeful to have a contract with them by June 5.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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