First of all, we (OCEA) never want to take money out of the pockets of our members or potential members. We appreciate Osceola County School Board Members for trying to incent1vize 01Jr talented staff 1n Osceola County. The action of the school Board circumvents our collective barga1n1ng agreement and does not provide an equitable distribution of funds to all our members and potential members. OCEA is committed to working on behalf of all our bargaining unit members. Salaries are a mandatory subject of bargaining. It is our intention to exercise our right to bargain the distribution of funds. I should have said any future funds.

Like School Board Chairwoman Castillo, we were in Tallahassee last week advocating for the students, parents, and educators back home when we learned of the Senate’s proposed budget. Raising the minimum salary to $15 per hour is a priority for the Florida Senate President, and the Florida Speaker of the House thinks it’s a good idea too. Again, we applaud the Osceola County School Board for acting ahead of schedule, but they needed to do it at the bargaining table. If the Senate has its way, SDOC would have been forced to raise salaries to $15/hour not later than July 1, 2022.

As far as we can tell, the ideas for a $500 non-recurring supplement to all employees (excluding substitute employees), a $0.30 an hour recurring salary increase for all ESP and Teamsters bargaining unit employees already making over $15.00 an hour, and a 2% recurring salary increase for all non­ bargaining support staff already making over $15.00 an hour came from the SDOC bargaining team, School Board Members, and Dr. Pace.

That said, we like to believe you played a part in convincing them to “do something” by contacting your School Board Members privately and publicly. We think they finally noticed the Google, Amazon, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Osceola County Sheriff Office, McDonald’s, and City of Kissimmee offers were contributing to the significant loss of dedicated personnel needed to give our kids t!heir best chance of success. Thank you for motivating them to do the right thing. Democracy only works when we all participate.

To be clear, these proposals were not submitted to or discussed with OCEA, which is the sole bargaining agent for the majority of the employees in Osceola County Public Schools. We have been scheduled to hold regular meetings for months. We advocated for some of these solutions as early as last year.

OCEA is concerned with one unit being given 30 cents per hour while another is being given 2% of their salary. That is just an observation. We have no control over any unit other than ours. That equates to at least $423 as opposed to at least $1,260. Last year during ESP negotiations, they were given the choice of $700 or 3% wichever was greater. Perhaps that should be an option.

Again, when our members and potential members win, our students win, and we win. This is a great start. As we have just seen, the Osceola County School Board can solve any challenge it has the will to address.