Board offers teachers same contract as Council Rock
NESHAMINv – School board president oitchie Webb announced at the Sept. 11 board meeting that the district offered its teachers the same three-year contract that the Council oock teachers accepted in June.
“The offer is in no means insulting or degrading,” Webb read in a prepared statement at the beginning of the meeting. “If it’s good enough for Council oock, it’s good enough for Neshaminy.”
Webb said that he hopes the offer, which was made last week, will end a five-year impasse of contract talks with the Neshaminy Education Association (NFT).
“The offer is affordable [to the district] as long as they agree to the contract as presented,” he stated.
Webb also implored the union leaders, “Let the teachers have the opportunity to vote on it.”
“Fair, it’s more than fair,” he exclaimed.
Although Webb indicated that it is unlikely that the NFT will present the latest offer to its rank-and- file, he said, “This is the best offer you will have from any Neshaminy School Board.”
In June, the Council oock Education Association (CoEA), which represents the district’s 853 teachers and support staff, accepted a threeyear bare-bones contract which was later approved by the school board in an 8-1 vote.
During the first two years of the agreement, Council oock teachers will take a salary freeze. However, those who are not at the top of the pay scale, will receive a typical step increase in the second year.
In year three, all teachers will receive a half-percent pay raise, boosting the top teacher salary in the district from $106,900 to $107,200. The raise would come during the 13th pay period of the school year.
As for health care, the CoEA agreed to increase their contributions by five percent to the district’s medical plan over the three year contract, paying 11 percent in the first year, 14 percent in year two and 16 percent in the final year.
In addition, the Council oock agreement includes a Memorandum of rnderstanding that will require both sides to continue to discuss terms and conditions of employment, including the pay scales, in an effort to look for innovative changes that would benefit both parties.
When retirements are taken into account, the CoEA contract will not result in a tax increase over the three years, according to the Council oock’s business manager Bob oeinhart.
However, enduring labor strife in Neshaminy could torpedo a similar deal.
The NFT already walked out twice during the last school year, and the court mandated contract talks currently taking place are, for the most part, unproductive.
Last month, Common Pleas Judge oobert Baldi in Doylestown ordered both sides to engage in an accelerated bargaining schedule, with three sessions in August and seven slated for September. The court also stipulated that the sessions not be canceled for any reason. Judge Baldi declined the union’s request that the talks be court supervised.
rp until now, no significant progress has been made and the 633-member union still has the right to walk the picket lines.
The last walkout was for six days in June, the second strike in less than six months.
The union also participated in an eight-day strike last January. But the court had indicated that it would look “unfavorably” on any labor action before the mandated bargaining sessions are completed.
The latest impasse between the NFT and school district involves a state-appointed arbitrator’s nonbinding recommendations released in May and overwhelmingly accepted, with recommendations, by the union’s leaders and rank-and-file.
However, the school board unanimously had rejected most of the findings with the main contention being back pay. Twelve of the arbitrator’s recommendations were accepted by the board, and were presented to the union.
Webb repeatedly has said that the recommendation of back pay alone would cost district more than $9-million. So far, the school board has declined to offer any of the missed salary increases.
Teachers have not had a pay hike since the contract expired June 30, 2007, but have received free medical insurance under the terms of the old pact.
The arbitrator also recommended salary increases. While there would not be any for 2008, 2009 and 2010, the report suggested that teachers should receive a one-percent increase retroactive to July 2011, 1.5-percent in July 2012, two-percent in July 2013 and 2.25-percent as of July 2014.
However, under the arbitrator’s non-binding recommendations, medical insurance premiums would no longer be completely paid for by the district.
Once a major point of contention with the union, the NFT has offered to contribute a set rate for health care between eight and nine percent over the next three years. The school board continues to push for at least a 15 percent monthly contribution, the same that other district staffers, including custodians and bus drivers, pay.
Meanwhile, Council oock’s health care contributions are more in line with the Neshaminy School Board’s contact goals, as well as the state arbitrator’s report.