Gunnar Paulson – Alachua County School Board District 3 Questionnaire

1) Do you support paying a living wage to all School Board workers including part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted workers? (The ACLC defines a living wage as 125% of the Federal Poverty Level- currently $14.78 an hour).

Yes

a. How will you ensure contracted workers are paid the set wage?

This is one of the five priorities of our strategic plan. This ensures it will be part of the budget being developed at the present time as the strategic plan drives the budget.

b. What is your plan to get us there?                                                                                       

We will raise the minimum wage significantly more than the overall raise given. We have adhered to this the last two years by increasing the minimum wage by 13%.This is in comparison to an overall 4% raise. Both the union and our staff have been informed they need to continue working on the salary schedule to keep its integrity so that we can continue to raise the minimum wage towards our goal of at least $15 per hour including health insurance. I say at least because we provide 100% paid health insurance to any employee who works at least half time. (Half time is defined as 4 hrs). I brought up two years ago during our setting of our priorities that we needed to raise the minimum wage. This will continue to be a major priority of mine. I have made it known to our staff an added increase to the minimum wage  must be budgeted right at the beginning of the budget process each year for us to continue to progress towards our goal and I will not agree to any budget that does not continue to make progress towards reaching this goal.

c. What ideas do you have to help improve wages and benefits for workers throughout our community?

I served as chairman of the health insurance committee while union president and wrote the committees long range plan. We have kept the costs of our health care plan down by making subtle changes when needed allowing our employees to have health insurance fully paid by the district with good benefits while freeing up money like we did last year that can be used for raises and help raise the minimum wage. Every board member, commissioner, etc should look for ways to find money and then use the money for wages and benefits. I see the ultimate solution is that we provide universal single payer health insurance. In the meantime we will continue to provide Health Insurance free of charge.

2) Do you support providing paid administrative leave for part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted city workers in the event of emergency work closures (e.g. hours missed due to Hurricanes)?

Yes! Specifically we had an experience with Hurricane Irma last year. We operated shelters not only for our local community, but for people coming from as far away as Miami. Our schools were closed for 6 days. If an ESP (custodian, aides, etc.) worked at a shelter or school during this time, they received overtime pay. If a teacher or administrator worked when they didn’t have to work they received their regular pay because they were not allowed to receive overtime pay. Even our after school employees were made whole. No employees lost money because of lost hours. We were willing to go to great lengths to make sure all our employees were not penalized by an emergency work closure. We are still waiting for some reimbursement from FEMA, but this may take some time. (Years)

3) Do you support a “Renters Bill of Rights” which would:

  • Inform renters of their rights under existing law
  • Offer an alternative to costly courts to settle disputes over security deposits and damages
  • protects renters from high utility bills by enacting policies that require
  • Landlords to make basic investments in energy efficiency.

YES!

5) Do you support a local hiring preference that includes the use of certified? Apprenticeship programs for taxpayer funded programs?

YES!

 

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