Mat-Su Classified Employees’ Association agrees to tentative 3-year deal with school district

FastCast morning digital headlines for Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 3:07 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2023 at 10:41 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A tentative agreement for the next three years was reached Friday between the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and the union representing staff and other education employees.

The Mat-Su Classified Employees’ Association announced through its president, Rick Morgan, that the two sides reached a tentative agreement that will expire in 2026.

Summarizing an arbitration report’s conclusion in a press release, Morgan wrote raises, continued health insurance participation through the Public Education Health Trust — or PEHT — and classified employees receiving special certifications were chief among their demands.

However, Morgan says the new contract will instead have employees leave the current health insurance program in favor of raises.

“The new contract has us leaving PEHT, and trading it for a larger wage increase for this current year and retro pay from July 1, 2023,” Morgan told Alaska’s News Source. “We didn’t really have a choice in the matter regarding PEHT. But made the best of the situation to gain raises for our members.”

In the release Morgan says impacted employees will move to the same plan Mat-Su Education Association union members, or MEA, already agreed to.

The key points of the new contract include:

  • A raise of $1.50 per hour for salaried employees — retroactive to July 1, 2023 — for Fiscal Year 2024; a 3% per hour raise for Fiscal Year 2025; and another 3% per hour raise for Fiscal Year 2026.
  • The decision to leave the Public Education Health Trust starting on Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Upgrading the process of hiring and retaining highly-qualified staff in the skilled trades.

Last month, the MEA and the Matanuska-Susitna School Board also settled on an agreement, ratifying a similar contract for pay raises and health care benefits.

Morgan said in a statement that he is “pleased” that the CEA and school district could come to an agreement on issues facing staff in the district.

“I believe this contract is fair and will foster an environment that will attract and retain high-quality employees to best serve our students. Mat-Su Classified employees will finally start to see some economic relief in their paychecks after years of inflation,” Morgan wrote.

Editors note: This article has been updated to clarify participation in the Public Educators Health Trust was a vital negotiation point during arbitration.