continue to seethe over the salary increases given to top administrators last week. For many of them, particularly for those who were present at the board meeting where the raise was voted on, it felt like a slap in the face.
Take for instance Carmen McCoy. After working at the district for 30 years, she has to pay $600 in health insurance, which leaves her $1,400 a month take home. Which is $16,800 (if she works 12 months out of the year). And when you put $16,800 side by side with the $120,000 -- $209,000 administrators are making, well, it stings.
“I make more than a lot of people in this office, and they work their butts off,” McCoy told me. “If we can’t have classified in the district, the school would not be able to function as well as it does. I love working here but it’s very discouraging to get your check every month and know it’s going to be that amount.”
And when McCoy and about 10 more other employees – janitors, bus drivers, food service employees – spoke at the board meeting last week, they felt as if they had not been heard. They told of having to work longer hours now to keep the classrooms clean. More responsibility, longer hours, same pay. But it was as if the board members had made up their minds, come prepared with what they were going to say and how they were going to justify the increases. And voted yes.
And to add salt to the wound, they felt that my story in the Herald did not truly reflect the anger and frustration the workers felt. Still feel. (In my defense, the meeting went on very late, and I had to file my story in order to make deadline. So here it is, trying to put out there what my story lacked)
Yes, the superintendent’s cabinet is working more now than before. So are the rest of the employees. Yes, the administrators hadn’t had a raise in years. Neither has McCoy, or anybody who’s already reached step 22, the highest in the union’s scale. Yes, the district needs stability, and stable administrators. How about stable classified employees? Don’t they count as a “stable” workforce – they wonder.
This goes beyond money, this anger and frustration. The sense you get from MPUSD employees – from many workers throughout the county, since this decision has been making waves everywhere – is that all that talk about budget cuts and austerity is empty. That the only ones who are being required to make real sacrifices are the people at the bottom. That no matter how bad the economy is, the people on top are always going to remain on top – or land on their feet. Statistically speaking, is true, but when workers have it rubbed on their faces, it’s really hard to take.
And that’s what MBTA president Dennis Wright meant when he said the raise was “bad timing.”
“I’d never gone to a board meeting before,” McCoy told me. “It’s the first time I've spoken to any supervisor or to board about any or my feelings. But I said I cannot longer complain to my coworkers if I don't say something.”