Inflation-Adjusted Teacher Salaries in Westfield Show Loss of Earning Power Since 2004

Teachers demonstrated outside of Abner Gibbs school on Wednesday, calling for higher cost of living adjustments.
Teachers demonstrated outside of Abner Gibbs school on Wednesday, calling for higher cost of living adjustments.
The comparison between the 2004 contract and today's contract shows that all steps at all degree levels except the highest step earn 7.4% less than they did in 2004. At all degree levels, teachers at the highest step, step 13, earn 4.6% less. Approximately 70% of teachers are at the highest step.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, $1 in 2004 is the equivalent of $1.24 in today's dollars. In other words, to buy the same amount of goods and service you could buy in 2004, you must spend 24% more. So, for example, someone earning $50,000 per year in 2004 would need to earn about $62,000 today to enjoy the same standard of living as they did in 2004. If your wages don't keep up with the rise of inflation your earning power is reduced resulting in what is effectively a pay cut. 
What's particularly striking is an individual teacher working at Westfield's schools who was already at the highest step in 2004 will, more than likely, have less earning power today in 2013. For example, let's assume Mary Smith is a teacher with 13 years experience in Westfield's schools in 2004. With a Master's degree she earned $53,293 back then. Today, Mary Smith earns $67,980 which is below the $71,476 needed to keep up with the rising cost of living. Even after factoring in her longevity pay of $1,250, Mary will still likely fall short of the $71,476 needed to stay even. So even with nine more years of experience, veteran teachers have effectively received a pay cut from the city of Westfield despite doing the same amount of work at the same degree level. And remember, we are talking about 70% of our workforce here.
I think these numbers should demonstrate clearly why the teachers can make a strong case for the needing an improved cost of living adjustments in the new contract. The big question we have to answer as a community is, are we willing to do all the hard work and explore all the options on the table to ensure our teachers are compensated fairly and our schools are adequately funded?
I welcome your input and countering viewpoints. Just be aware I will be banning those who make comments that contain ad hominem attacks or are meant to provoke a reaction or harass. My goal is to foster constructive debate and an exchange of ideas. Feel free to start your own blog if you don't like the rules here.
You can look at my spreadsheet or a pdf version of it to see the data I used to derive my figures.