‘Year 2, no con­tract’

Coatesville teach­ers are seek­ing new deal while they con­tinue work­ing un­der an ex­pired con­tract

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gin­ger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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