‘Year 2, no contract’
Coatesville teachers are seeking new deal while they continue working under an expired contract
CALN » When the Coatesville teachers began another school year under an expired contract, they picketed prior to the school board meeting on Tuesday to request a fair contract.
Coatesville Area Teachers Association (CATA) Members began the 2017-18 school year again by working without a new contract after it expired on Aug. 31, 2016. Negotiations are on-going.
“Very little progress has been made, despite overwhelming rejections of a Fact Finder’s report and a Memorandum of Understanding,” Coatesville Area Teachers Association (CATA) President Audra Ritter said. “It’s year two and no contract.”
Ritter explained that is why
the teachers attended the school board meeting to demonstrate to the board members that “CATA is united in our efforts and we are getting to the end of the road in what we can tolerate regarding the board’s failed commitment to settle a fair and competitive contract.”
“Our members are beyond frustrated at the district’s lack of commitment to reach settlement,” Ritter said. “Administration seems more focused on dividing the Coatesville Area Teachers Association than finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
However, school board members noted that a teacher’s contract “is and always has been a contract negotiated between a school board and an association. Contract negotiations are not administrative functions.” School board President Dean Snyder said they are continuing to work with the association.
“The Coatesville Area School Board is dedicated to creating innovative educational experiences which are funded by the taxpayers, supported by the community, and delivered by dedicated teachers and administrators, to ensure all students will become responsible, contributing global citizens,” Snyder said.
Snyder disputed the teachers’ union saying that the nine-member school board attempts to divide them. He added that the school board accepted the fact-finder’s recommendation that CATA rejected.
“There is no division in this mission. With respect to CATA, we are committed to achieving a responsible and fair contract and our actions demonstrate such,” Snyder said. “This is why even when CATA prematurely called for fact-finding, our school board accepted the fact-finder’s recommendation when CATA rejected it twice.”
The school board announced the following: the recommendation provided salary increases to the salary matrix of 3.5 percent, three percent and three percent each year of a threeyear contract. Some teachers would have received much more than this, depending upon their placement on the salary matrix. The recommendation also provided an insurance plan CATA provided to the factfinder.
“Though we knew it would be a challenge to fund the proposal, we agreed in an effort to work with CATA,” Snyder said. “Even after CATA’s rejections, the board continued to meet to try to find a way to come to an agreement.”
The fact-finding was seven-months ago.
“It now feels like we are back to square one,” Snyder said, “which is very frustrating.”
He said the disputed issues are not salary or benefits, but the “issue that continues to divide us” is the district having a right to assign work or duties at times during the 7.5-hour work day, excluding during a duty-free lunch of 30 minutes and a daily planning period of 45 minutes. Details on the matter can be found at https://www.casdschools.org/domain/716 .
Ritter agreed that the main issue for their membership is the work day and said that the district wants to “eliminate much needed planning time.”
“The only positive point in the district supposal is the salary increase. And even with that many of our members would break even or take a pay cut due to the increase in benefits,” Ritter explained. “We asked our membership and even knowing some would take a pay cut and that we would remain the lowest paid in the county. Our members still were willing to take it as long as our work day stayed the same. The district said no.”
Snyder said they look forward to continuing negotiations on Oct. 12.
“Our school board continues to hold the highest respect for our teachers,” Snyder said. “We sincerely hope that CATA will not put their interests in front of the interests of the students they serve and compromise student learning by calling a strike.”
Teachers and their families would like to see them gain a fair contract. Coatesville Area Teachers Association members began the 2017-18 school year still working under an expired contract. Teachers assembled at the Coatesville Area School Board meeting on Tuesday by holding signs and marching and chanting for a new contract.