RIF Q and A

Question 1: What exactly is a “RIF” and how does that affect me?

“RIF” is short for “Reduction In Force,” and is equivalent to a lay-off notice in the business sector.   Bear in mind that the contract language does not use this term, it uses the word “layoff.”  If you are low in seniority or credits or if the program in which you are employed is eliminated by the district, you may be in danger of being laid off.

Question 2: How will I know if I’m in danger of being laid off?

It begins with the existence of an actual funding crisis, then a determination of which program areas to keep.  Each teacher was asked to select up to four categories in which to be considered for retention or layoff.  Seniority lists have been developed and posted.  When there is a tie in seniority between two or more employees, it falls to your level of total college credits as a tie-breaker.  If that is also even, tied individuals must draw lots.  Those individuals with the lowest seniority and who are narrowly certificated are at the greatest risk.

Question 3: Are layoffs common?

Yes and no.  On the one hand there are smaller districts out there that routinely hand out RIF notifications every year, then begin to hire back teachers once they are certain of their funding for the coming year.  In Kent it hasn’t happened since the mid-1970s.  Of course the current budget crisis is not “typical,” and many districts are considering laying off staff if they lose significant amounts on state funding.

Question 4: How likely is a layoff?

It’s contingent upon many factors, including, but not limited to state funding (which should be finalized no later than April 26th, when the legislature is scheduled to adjourn), federal dollars (including the much-anticipated Federal education “bail-out”), and local levy funding. 

It is important to note that these factors can all be minimized by such things as work-force attrition (including retirements, non-renewals and other leaves).  The attrition rate in Kent averages between 100 and 200 people annually.

Question 5: If I’m RIFed, does that mean that I’ve actually lost my job?

No.  In fact, districts often layoff members before they’re fully cognizant of what their revenue will be, and then begin to recall many who were initially sent layoff slips. 

Question 6: If I’m not laid off, could I end up working in a different building?

Yes.  A layoff based on seniority, certification, and subject area categories may leave too few staff in some buildings.  People can volunteer to transfer, but if there is still a need to relocate staff, those with the lowest seniority will be involuntarily transferred.

Question 7: If I am laid off, and there’s a possibility that I’ll be recalled, what is the process for doing that?

Those who are laid off will be in a “reemployment pool” and will be rehired in order of seniority within their categories and certification.  You can stay in the pool for up to three years, and have to notify the district if you want to remain in the pool for the second and third year.

Question 8: If I am laid off, can I be placed on KSD’s substitute list?

The contract says that teachers who are not reemployed for the start of the following school year can apply and be placed on the substitute roster.

Question 9: My KEA building representative has been asking me to get involved with the union’s advocacy for its members.  Would participating in any KEA activity result in a greater likelihood of my being laid off?

No.  Layoffs are based on seniority and certification, not on popularity with the administration.  According to RCW.4159; “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist employee organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities.”

Question 10: Where can I find more information about the layoff and recall procedures?

Article VII, Section 8 of the KEA/KSD contract describes the process in detail.

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