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Labor Negotiations Update
Posted 11/10/21

After six bargaining sessions this fall with the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA), our teachers’ union, we have reached tentative agreement on seven articles in the contract and are still working to come to agreement on eight more articles that include salaries, class sizes, and other important issues. During this successor contract negotiation, some articles in the contract were not reopened and therefore are not being discussed by the District and MDEA.

The negotiation sessions continue to be a time for the District and MDEA teams to discuss issues and move closer to an agreement. While the District maintains the desire to recruit, hire, and retain the most highly qualified individuals to serve the students throughout the District, we must keep the overall financial health of the District in mind. MDUSD is currently in negotiations with both classified (Teamsters, CST) and certificated unions (MDEA and MDSPA - representing school psychologists).


Any agreement between the District and MDEA is subject to review by the Contra Costa County Office of Education to determine whether or not, with the terms of the agreement, the District can meet its financial obligations in the current and two subsequent fiscal years. The District’s proposals to MDEA on salary and other areas where there are costs that the District will incur are based on budget constraints and the need to be fiscally responsible as the District faces projected deficits in the future due to rising costs and reduced revenues because of declining enrollment and the loss of one-time funds that were used to pay for some expenses last year and this year.
District and MDEA proposals on Salary

Both the District and MDEA have made proposals to increase the salaries for our teachers in the current and next two school years. The current salary proposals made by the District and MDEA for each year are summarized below.





3% (Effective Jan. 1, 2022)

7.5% (Effective July 1, 2021)


2% (Effective July 1, 2022)

3.5% (Effective July 1, 2022)


1% (Effective July 1, 2023)

1.5% (Effective July 1, 2023)

Total over three years



Since other bargaining units have “me too” clauses in their contracts that provide them with the same salary increases negotiated by MDEA, the district considers these total costs in its negotiations with the teachers’ union. MDUSD estimates that each 1% increase in salaries (including PERS and STRS contributions, Medicare, Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Insurance, and limited Social Security benefits) for all district staff would add about $2.8 million (including vacant positions) in ongoing costs each year.

Because the District’s budget continues to be impacted by declining enrollment and the discontinuance of “hold harmless” revenues - and because we cannot pay for the ongoing salary increases offered by the District with one-time funds - the District’s negotiating team continues to look for cost savings as they negotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement. To date, MDEA has not accepted any of the District’s cost-saving proposals and continues to propose higher-cost items such as large pay increases, as well as other items that would add to the District’s costs, such as reduced class sizes (which would require the District to hire more teachers), and higher pay for covering classes when substitutes are not available.

The District has presented multiple proposals to enact cost-saving measures in order to improve the financial feasibility for the District to increase wages, while avoiding higher levels of reductions to programs, teacher and staff positions. The union has continued to reject each cost-saving measure proposed thus far by the District.

The District’s First Interim Budget Report will be presented at our Governing Board meeting on December 8. Over the next couple of months, the Board will be reviewing and discussing cost-saving plans that will identify areas that can be eliminated or reduced to allow the District to achieve the savings necessary to maintain a positive budget certification.

It is important to keep in mind that most teachers work 185 days a year and automatically receive “step and column” pay increases annually based on years of service and post-secondary units, even in years when no new raises are provided by the District. For example, teachers who have worked in the District for 13 years or less get pay increases every year that amount to about 2%-3% annually. And teachers with 75 units or more of post-secondary education continue to receive annual pay increases of about 1% through their 25th year in the District.

“Step and Column” increases (without District raises) for teachers working 185 days

Annual "steps"

0-44 units (increases each year through year 13)

45-59 units (increases each year through year 13) 60-74 units (increases each year through year 13) 75+ units (increases each year through year 25)
1 (first year) $53,339 $54,557 $56,153 $57,794
13 (13th year) $66,783 $74,237 $80,786 $85,457
25 (25th year) $66,783 $74,237 $80,786 $98,346

Currently, beginning teachers in the District with less than 45 units of post-secondary credits earn $53,339 annually, which rises to $66,783 by their 13th year, even if the District provides no raises during that time. Meanwhile, teachers with more than 75 units of post-secondary credits are making $85,457 by their 13th year in the District, which rises to $98,346 by their 25th year. Nearly 164 teachers in the District earn this top salary rate at a cost of more than $16 million to the District, while about 80 teachers are at the 15th step in the highest-earning column, making $87,481 annually for a total cost of more than $7 million to the District.
Teachers also earn stipends above their base salaries for master’s and doctorate degrees, as well as some certificates. And they earn extra pay when they cover classes because no substitutes are available or if they serve as advisors or coaches to clubs or teams.
In addition, all teachers (as well as all other District employees), received a one-time “off-schedule” bonus payment of $1,500 effective June 30, 2021, which was the equivalent of a nearly 3% pay boost for beginning teachers and more than 1.5% for our most veteran teachers.
Based on the most recent data published by the California Department of Education, Mt. Diablo Unified’s beginning teacher salary was higher than that of every other District in Contra Costa County in 2020. Its average salary of $79,637 was higher than seven other county Districts, and its highest teacher salary was higher than those in eight other Districts. (See Teacher Salary attachment.) Mt. Diablo Unified, therefore, remains very competitive and some salaries that may be lower than those in other Districts are offset by higher benefits costs covered by the District.

Data shows that Mt. Diablo Unified spent more on employee benefits than 16 other Districts in the county, at 28% of “current expense of education,” higher than the average of 25.7%. (See Total Benefit Spending attachment.) These costs also rise each year. Mt. Diablo Unified spends $1.2 million on benefits for retired teachers each year and in 2017, the District approved an additional $650,000 annual cost for retired teachers' dependents.


Class sizes

MDEA proposed reduced class sizes for TK, to eliminate most combination classes (combined grade levels), and an alternative education class size of 25. These changes would require the District to add about 45 additional Full Time Employees at a cost of approximately $3.8 million to support lower class sizes and caseloads, and to avoid combination classes.

This is the equivalent of the cost of a 1.5% raise for all District employees. Any money the District spends to reduce class sizes decreases the total amount of money it has available to offer pay raises.

Moving forward

The articles on which the District and MDEA have reached Tentative Agreements are:

·   Article 8: Job Share Program
·   Article 11: Evaluation
·   Article 13: Peer Assistance and Review and Program Re         Selection for TSA Eligibility List
·   Article 22: Retirement Plans & Retiree Health/Dental Benefits
·   Article 23: Personnel Files
·   Article 25: Professional Development Advisory Committee
·   Article 26: Summer School

Both the District and MDEA’s bargaining teams are working hard to find common ground so that we can reach an agreement that benefits all students, staff and families. The District team will continue to focus on a high-level educational experience for all students, while supporting the needs of the community and staff, and remaining fiscally responsible.
Both teams have agreed to continue bargaining on the following dates:

Wednesday, November 17
Friday, December 10
Thursday, December 16