PSEA's Compensation Campaign for Education Support Professionals

You are worth professional pay!

PSEA's Compensation Campaign for ESP, including "Best Practices" for ESP compensation, is launching in local associations this year. They are working to achieve the basic goal of a "Living Wage" for all members. The "Best Practices" for ESP Compensation consist of three basic concepts. They recognize that a Living Wage is a floor, the level needed just to provide the necessities of life for members and their families. Once a living wage is accomplished, they will provide guidance to create a compensation system that will maximize members' earnings.

A living wage provides the minimal annual income needed to meet an individual’s or family’s basic needs, including the payment of all applicable federal, state and local taxes, without relying on either public or private assistance. Estimates of the annual income required for a “living wage” assume that the employer provides health care coverage – which is not true for many ESP members. A living wage does not include any amount for savings (for retirement, education or any other purpose) or any provision for insurance (such as renter’s insurance) or for luxury items, such as eating a meal outside of the home.

The 519 members of the Pocono Mountain ESP, who begin bargaining in January 2009, kicked off a Living Wage campaign in December 2007 after realizing that, under the current contract,  nine out of ten members will never achieve a living wage. The local has held membership meetings, hosted a public forum on the benefits of a living wage,  and mounted an extensive public relations campaign to build support in preparation for their coming negotiations.

The struggle for a "Living Wage" is the cornerstone of the ESP Compensation Campaign but is by no means the only element of the campaign. The more than 330 members of IU 20 ESP began bargaining last January, and reached a tentative agreement that not only increases the starting rate from about two-thirds of the local living wage to about 90 percent of it, but also incorporates other elements of the "Best Practices." This local, which had no wage scales and consequently neither a defined "job rate" for each position nor a way to move all members from the start rate to the job rate within a fixed amount of time, added wage scales, in addition to other enhancements to their contract.

Negotiating wage scales where no defined compensation system exists, with a starting rate of at least the local living wage, and the ultimate goal of achieving a single rate for each job classification, in PSEA's "Best Practices" for ESP Compensation will ensure that all ESPs receive the professional compensation they deserve and maximize our members' earnings.

For more information about the "Best Practices" for ESP Compensation, especially news about our progress toward ensuring that all of our members receive at least a living wage, visit PSEA's new Living Wage page on

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