Vancouver Public Schools is preparing to file an unfair labor practice claim with the Public Employment Relations Commission against the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals pending the outcome of Jan. 22 mediation.

VPS and VAESP previously announced a tentative agreement on Dec. 21 after bargaining with assistance from a state mediator. Last week, VAESP informed its members that the union’s leaders no longer supported the tentative agreement.

In the tentative agreement, VPS agreed to provide VAESP members $2 million in total salary improvements plus $400,000 of mandatory benefit contributions in 2018-19 and $500,000 in total salary improvements plus $100,000 of mandatory benefit contributions in 2019-20. The total overall cost increase to the district would be $3 million per year by 2019-20.

The state mediator confirmed for VPS on Dec. 21 that the VAESP bargaining team was informed and understood that the total salary improvements included state cost-of-living adjustment increases. After working with VPS in January to establish new salary schedules, however, VAESP leaders asserted that the total salary improvements were to be given on top of the state cost-of-living adjustments.

In a Jan. 15 meeting with union members, and in subsequent communications to union members, VAESP leaders stated that VPS had withdrawn from the tentative agreement. The district responded publicly in a Jan. 16 news release that it absolutely had not withdrawn.

The tentative agreement would improve total hourly wages from 2017-18 to 2018-19 by 10.2 percent on average and 2 percent on average in 2019-20, for a total improvement of 12.2 percent on average over two years.

VPS is continuing to work through the state mediator to resolve the dispute with VAESP.