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Iowa:Waterloo Schools Support Staff Voices 'Living Wage' Concerns
Waterloo Daily Courier
Andrew Wind

January 30, 2011
View the Original Article


WATERLOO --- Waterloo Community Schools' support staff asked administrators for a raise Thursday that brings salaries "closer to a living wage."

Waterloo Educational Support Personnel proposed an 8 percent boost in hourly pay during an initial bargaining session on the 2011-12 contract.

Lead negotiator Brenda Felts said an increase would help the district retain more of its support staff.

The contract covers 331 employees, including secretaries and paraeducators.

"In a school district that touts equity and highly qualified employees, it is disturbing that over half of our support staff is eligible for food stamps and free and reduced lunches," Felts said.

Administrators countered with proposals offering no base wage increase for support personnel or for two other bargaining units.

Brett Nitzschke, the district's chief negotiator, noted that is only a starting position, and employees would still advance on the established salary schedule.

Other initial sessions for the 2011-12 contract were held with the Waterloo Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2749.

The Waterloo Education Association proposed base pay increases totaling 3.5 percent, and AFSCME suggested 3 percent.

Hourly wages on the support personnel salary schedule range from $9.44 to $10.75 with an another seven cents per hour added each year beyond the eight steps.

The contract being negotiated by the Waterloo Education Association covers 852 employees, including teachers and counselors. The existing salary schedule ranges from $33,620 to $68,175 depending on educational degrees and years of experience.

The contract with AFSCME members covers 186 employees, including custodians, maintenance staffers. Hourly wages range from $10.10 to $20.49.