School employees asked to freeze pay

2011-02-15T03:05:00Z 2011-02-15T09:29:36Z School employees asked to freeze payKelly Voll / The Citizen Auburn Citizen
February 15, 2011 3:05 am  • 

AUBURN — Auburn Enlarged City School District Superintendent J.D. Pabis said Monday he is asking district employees to come together to help close the budget gap.

He requested the district’s unions take a voluntary wage freeze for the 2011-12 school year.

“We are considering all measures to help close the budget deficit and this is a measure being considered,” he said. “To make it effective, all staff would have to give it serious consideration.”

Pabis himself would take a pay freeze if all employees agreed to give up raises. Pabis said this could save the district $900,000 and save some programs and positions from deep cuts in state aid that will affect Auburn and other districts if Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal is approved.

With a $6.5 million budget deficit possible, Pabis said there will likely be cuts whether or not all employees agree to the freeze. However, there would be fewer cuts if pay is frozen.

Pabis said in addition to helping preserve programs and jobs, a freeze would show the district is trying to solve the budget crisis.

“It would show some solidarity in the district, as a school community,” he said. “It would display to the community that we are also doing our part.”

Some union presidents declined to comment until they meet with their members, but Meg Yurco, president of the Auburn Educational Secretaries and Paraprofessionals Association (AESPP), said the prospect of a wage freeze concerns her.

Yurco’s union, made up of 160 secretaries, clerks, teacher aides and cafeteria monitors, signed a three-year contract in mid-2010 that gave employees a 3.35 percent raise for each of the first two years and a 3 percent raise in the third.

In return for the increases, employees will gradually pay a higher percentage on their health insurance premiums. In the first year, their contributions will go from 10 percent to 10.5 percent; in the second year, the percentage will rise to 11.5; and in year three, they will pay 12.5 percent, Yurco said.

She is concerned that continually rising health insurance costs combined with a pay freeze will harm her union members.

She also said the cost of living is rising faster than their income and when they signed their contract, there were no other benefit improvements.

She added many of the union members are single parents whose children attend school in the district.

“Most of us are among the lowest-paid employees,” she said. “We’re all very grateful for our jobs ... I couldn’t give up that small raise that we got. We worked very hard to negotiate that contract.”

David Albert, director of communications for the New York State School Boards Association, said 70 percent of most districts’ budgets are made up of personnel costs, so looking at wage freezes seems an obvious choice for trying to save significant amounts of money.

Albert said in 2009-10, 75 districts negotiated some kind of concession with their unions.

“This has been happening over the past couple years,” he said. “It does seem to be a strategy that districts will use this year.”

Albert cited the Liverpool and West Genesee districts as some that have also tried to pitch a wage freeze.

The United Liverpool Faculty Association, which represents 1,000 employees, did not take a voluntary pay freeze, Albert said. Their superintendent asked them in January and offered to freeze his own salary, according to a Syracuse newspaper.

Albert said West Genesee’s superintendent had asked for the same district-wide pay freeze, but Albert was unsure whether or not employees had responded. West Genesee Superintendent Christopher Brown could not be reached for comment.

Cuomo released a statement Monday showing his support for the Bethlehem Central School District administration, which “has implemented a voluntary salary freeze for its top administrators,” he wrote.

“This is a responsible and sensible first step that recognizes the state’s current fiscal condition and I encourage school district across New York to find ways to reduce costs and put children first,” Cuomo wrote.

John Cambareri, co-president of the Auburn Teachers Association, said he will go to Albany today to lobby and rally in an effort to ask state legislators to explain why this region is getting hit with such massive cuts compared to other parts of the state. He and hundreds of other education representatives will also appeal to legislators to reconsider cuts in the governor’s proposal.

“At this point in the process, I think we’re in agreement that everything needs to be on the table for discussion,” Cambareri said of the pay freeze idea. “Considering the enormity of the cuts proposed, we need to look at everything.”

Pabis said some of the union presidents have scheduled meetings with their members for next week. He said although he does not know what each union will ultimately decide, union leaders at least lent their ears to hear him out.

“Everyone was willing to listen to me – they didn’t throw me out,” he joked. “I’ve asked every (leader) to discuss it with their membership.”

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or kelly.voll@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(25) Comments

  1. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 22, 2011 10:26 am
    I agree Tom, concessions need to be asked for and strong arguments need to be made. Wisconsin public unions have agreed to concessions and the govenor and GOP members of the legislature, now want to bust organized labor, which has been and continues to be part of the GOP agenda. The GOP continues to be the enemy of the working class and will not be happy until everyone works for minimum wages with no health care or retirement benefits. The focus needs to be working with unions to right the ship and collective bargaining is the way to do it. The Wisconsin govenor has underestimated organized labor and has now woken a sleeping giant,and quite honestly, I'm glad he has.
  2. Tom
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    Tom - February 22, 2011 9:57 am
    movedsouth said: "Yes that's true, but in good times you reap the rewards, and in bad times, you should accept reality. You cannot keep going to the well when there is no water. Contracts are made under certain economic conditions, conditions deteriorate, you have to adjust. Somehow you have to pay the bills. Lay off teachers, you hurt the kids. But the question is who's fault is it. You only have so much money for payroll, if you're short on payroll, you either pay fewer people at current rate, or more at a lesser rate."

    True, but I can't agree with ending collective bargaining as a lot of the Repubs want (Wisconsin is turning into a National test case).
    A contract is a contract.
    Asking for concessions is a far different matter than demanding them.
    If the position were reversed , would an employer revisit a contract if money is rolling in? No way. It would be "talk to us at the next negotiation".
    It's simply consequences of past decisions.

  3. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 22, 2011 9:15 am
    Adding all of the central office administrator positions for the 7 districts in Cayuga County adds up to $1,750,605 for 2010/2011. That total does not include the costs of the support staff in the central administrations of the 7 districts or the cost of BOCES Administrators which covers some other districts. One thing is certain, it's time to quit wasting money on having too many districts with redundant positions.
  4. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 22, 2011 8:56 am
    Superintendent of Schools 174,354 49,894 0
    Asst. Super For Personnel 103,500 31,278 0
    Asst. Super For Instruction 122,130 26,711 0
    Asst. Super Fo Student Services 116,955 32,801 0


    Above numbers are for Auburn School district off of the State Ed Dept website. They include the position/salary/benefits/other compensation for 2010/2011

    No union representation, yet very high compensation packages, starting with the superintendent who makes as much as the govenor of NY. A total of $660,000, in central administrative compensation for one school district in Cayuga County.

  5. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 21, 2011 8:14 pm
    Tom said: "What's happening today in this country isn't just "Union Busting" but an attempt to legitimize reneging on contracts between people. If precedents are set in this area it will spread to other areas. "

    Yes that's true, but in good times you reap the rewards, and in bad times, you should accept reality. You cannot keep going to the well when there is no water. Contracts are made under certain economic conditions, conditions deteriorate, you have to adjust. Somehow you have to pay the bills. Lay off teachers, you hurt the kids. But the question is who's fault is it. You only have so much money for payroll, if you're short on payroll, you either pay fewer people at current rate, or more at a lesser rate. I was in that situation, but the company made the decision, not the employees. There was a layoff/termination.
  6. Tom
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    Tom - February 21, 2011 1:33 pm
    I'm not a big fan of unions and I truly believe that the days of the underpaid, overworked teacher (at least in NY) are long gone.
    But, I don't understand the hostility towards union workers.

    The facts are, the unions can make demands and ask for the moon during negotiations, but the employers can say NO.
    If you don't like the CONTRACT you made, you shouldn't have agreed to it.
    What's happening today in this country isn't just "Union Busting" but an attempt to legitimize reneging on contracts between people.
    If precedents are set in this area it will spread to other areas.

  7. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 19, 2011 1:40 pm
    patchwork said: " All the salaries are available online at SeeThroughNY.com"

    Very interesting! Thanks
  8. patchwork
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    patchwork - February 19, 2011 10:00 am
    JV_FOOTBALL said: "I think that the citizen should put there salary's in the paper then go from there. " All the salaries are available online at SeeThroughNY.com

  9. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 19, 2011 8:21 am
    JV_FOOTBALL said: "I think that the citizen should put there salary's in the paper then go from there."

    MANY years ago the Citizen DID print the salaries of teachers and possibly city employees.
  10. JV_FOOTBALL
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    JV_FOOTBALL - February 18, 2011 11:31 pm
    I think that the citizen should put there salary's in the paper then go from there.
  11. texman
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    texman - February 17, 2011 11:34 am
    Most of us working have to take a pay cut or at least a freeze without a choice to keep our jobs. All sides need a reality check as this should not even be a choice for the employees in this economy.
  12. jm2poneill
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    jm2poneill - February 16, 2011 10:19 am
    AMH RN's are currently on a pay freeze. It was either that or lose our retirement! Sometimes you just have to bend over and take the beating.
  13. Unemployed2011
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    Unemployed2011 - February 16, 2011 9:32 am
    Seems as though the tide is turning. There are alot of families out of work in Auburn and I believe they have had enough of the whining from the unions. Get with the program as you see above in the poll. 736 people have spoken and you can see the results. Enough is enough. Pabis took this public and it is a smart move. If you want to strike go ahead. We will fill those jobs fast as heck. Anyone got any apple juice????Those union people learned fast there.
  14. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 15, 2011 8:17 pm
    Has anyone noticed the effort of the school district employees on the poll?
  15. davidt
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    davidt - February 15, 2011 2:26 pm
    Can the union use contractually temporary pay-freezes as leverage to secure other interests? ie. long term employment contracts? consolidation prevention? Maybe we could secure building operations and faculty positions by agreeing to a three to five year pay freeze. In these tough times job security can be more valuable than raises. While Auburn has fared particularly well during this recession, murmurs indicate that tougher times may be on the way. In an already depressed area (like ours) choosing a "spend" or "cut" mentality probably won't prevent the apocalypse.
  16. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 15, 2011 12:04 pm
    dingaling said: "Why does Pabis have to wait to see what teachers & clerial are going to do. He, Mr. Pirozzolo & Ms. George need to take a freeze first then maybe everyone else would follow."

    So that he doesn't look like a fool when the rest DON'T.
  17. Unemployed2011
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    Unemployed2011 - February 15, 2011 11:32 am
    Well said movedsouth!Think about it before you shoot your mouth of teachers. Things are bad.I personally don't care who takes it first, but lets just get it done!
  18. dingaling
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    dingaling - February 15, 2011 10:25 am
    Why does Pabis have to wait to see what teachers & clerial are going to do. He, Mr. Pirozzolo & Ms. George need to take a freeze first then maybe everyone else would follow.
  19. Unemployed2011
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    Unemployed2011 - February 15, 2011 9:23 am
    I can almost guarantee all 5 commenter's so far work for the school system......It is time to stop with the constant pay raises each year dictated by the unions. We the people paying don't have jobs and can't afford the raise in taxes every year. I can say this CSEA. Every union has fallen and you will to. Keep pushing the bar a little higher. You see what the idiot's over to New Venture Gear got. NO Jobs. You can come join the crowd.
  20. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - February 15, 2011 9:23 am
    When the layoffs come, it will be on their fellow employees. Times are tough, deal with it. Nobody wants to bail out your unions. Union pensions want bailouts but they won't accept concessions, NO BAILOUTS.
    "She is concerned that continually rising health insurance costs combined with a pay freeze will harm her union members."
    Maybe others feel that not freezing wages will harm the WHOLE community.
  21. 525
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    525 - February 15, 2011 8:23 am
    Mr. Pabis, as a top administrator of the school system, you should be doing two things. #1- take a pay cut and then #2- after the pay cut, freeze your pay. Then, maybe, you will feel the pain that your employees are feeling. The people at the top are the ones that need to make the sacrifice not the ones at the bottom of the pay scale.
  22. Oa
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    Oa - February 15, 2011 8:06 am
    Why will Mr. Pabis only freeze his salary if everyone else does? Shouldn't he be setting an example by starting with his own (higher than the governor) salary?
  23. armymom
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    armymom - February 15, 2011 7:54 am
    In 1992, due to a financial crisis in the district, the union in the district where I teach gave a salary concession in exchange for promise of some sort of remuneration in the future. Well, 19 years later we're still waiting. Oh - and we're 9 months into the school year and still no contract. In the private sector, people would be on strike by now.
  24. Lovejoy
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    Lovejoy - February 15, 2011 6:57 am
    Funny there is little mention of cutting his own salary, which, along with his useless, redundant $80,000/yr. "Curriculum Coordinators" (like they are a dire necessity) are what's draining this school district of much-needed funds. This school district hierarchy is the epitome of beauracracy gone wild, yet no one ever talks about it; it's about time Mr. Pabis, et al. start facing the fire for some of the cerainly questionable moves they have made during their tenure here...
  25. james_13021
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    james_13021 - February 15, 2011 6:22 am
    I don't think I've read a single story where any district has agreed to a pay freeze. It's am option none ever take. So let the layoffs begin...and start cutting the programs...
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