Last week, El Paso AFT President Ross Moore filed a collective grievance with El Paso ISD against Deputy Superintendent Vince Sheffield and his staff, alleging that they did not follow the district’s compensation guidelines, resulting in thousands of dollars in withheld wages for certain district employees.
Last summer, thanks to El Paso AFT’s successful wage campaign, all staff won a pay increase and speech language pathologists (SLPs) moved up the pay schedule. In the grievance, Moore states that, according to district compensation guidelines, this pay-scale transition coupled with the across-the-board raise should have yielded a 10% raise for SLPs, but Sheffield’s staff raised SLP pay by just 2% of the new salary schedule.
In August, El Paso AFT brought the issue to the attention of the Board of Trustees. Despite the district promising to rectify the error, SLPs still have not received their accurate raise. Moore alleges that the district’s unwillingness to provide the promised raise is a form of retaliation against these employees for speaking out about their stagnant salaries and growing workload.
“Denying them their pay was an emotional response and a retaliatory response on the part of HR and Mr. Sheffield,” Moore stated in the grievance.
The local union is demanding that the district implement the full raises with back pay and institute safeguards to ensure that this type of issue cannot happen again.
This grievance comes as many El Paso ISD employees report disappointment and dissatisfaction with the district. A recent survey conducted by El Paso AFT found that over 70% of respondents thought the district had changed for the worse over the past two years, and over 80% of respondents stated that their workload had increased over the past year.
El Paso ISD has a history of wage theft accusations. Last year dual-language educators failed to receive a promised stipend due to an “administrative error” that the board rectified at its September board meeting. Additionally, in 2019, the district awarded two dance instructors $14,000 after they filed a grievance when they were not awarded a promised stipend, and on a separate occasion, another staff member was awarded $9,800 after being asked to work overtime without pay.
According to EPISD’s grievance process, the superintendent or a designee has 10 days from the day the complaint was submitted to hold a hearing and another 10 days to respond. If they are unable to resolve the grievance or the time for a response has expired, El Paso AFT can bring the complaint to the school board.