PSEA victories net long-term substitutes fair wages
Published December 2009 Voice
After filing and winning nine separate grievances against a school board with a history of contract violations, long-term substitute teachers in the Indiana School District are finally being paid what their contract requires.
With favorable rulings or settlements in all nine grievances filed between 1996 and 2006, more than 70 teachers were awarded a total of $626,278 in back pay.
“Since this started in 1996, the leadership of the local association and PSEA’s Uniserv representative never wavered in standing strong against the school district’s wrongdoing,” said PSEA Central-Western Counsel Bill Eckel.
The controversy, which began during the 1996-1997 school year, involved the school district’s refusal to pay long-term substitutes according to the school district’s salary schedule. PSEA filed six grievances between 1996 and 2002. In 2002, an arbitrator ruled in the Association’s favor on all of the grievances, granting the teachers a $312,000 settlement.
The Indiana School District appealed the decision, but lost in the court of common pleas, the Commonwealth Court, and the Supreme Court.
Even after the arbitrator’s ruling and failed appeals, Indiana continued to pay long-term substitutes the same wages. Three additional grievances were filed in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The Association won all three, and the school district agreed to pay the teachers additional settlements totaling more than $300,000.
According to Eckel, this is not the first time Indiana School District has suffered expensive losses for contract violations. The school district recently paid an additional $1 million in judgments on issues involving improper step placement of long-term substitute teachers who were eventually hired full time and for inappropriate payments to nurse assistants.
“School districts are supposed to follow the rules,” Eckel said. “When they don’t, we will fight to make sure they do.”