Dal­las teach­ers ready­ing for pos­si­ble strike later this week

Ne­go­ti­a­tions will be held Thurs­day with the strike cur­rently set for Fri­day.

The Citizens' Voice - - FRONT PAGE - BY MICHAEL P. BUF­FER STAFF WRITER

The clock is tick­ing as teach­ers for the Dal­las School District get ready for an­other strike Fri­day.

Lead­ers with the teach­ers union, the Dal­las Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, plan to meet with school district ne­go­tia­tors Thurs­day, “but we told them yes­ter­day that we will meet ev­ery­day, all day if nec­es­sary, to avoid a strike,” union Pres­i­dent Michael Cherinka Jr. said Fri­day in an email.

The on­go­ing con­tract dis­pute re­sulted in a di­vi­sive teach­ers strike in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber. Teach­ers have been work­ing with­out a union con­tract since Septem­ber 2015.

“The district ne­go­ti­at­ing team has never re­fused to meet,” school district solic­i­tor Vito DeLuca said Fri­day, responding to Cherinka’s com­ments.

Stick­ing points over the last year have in­cluded a de­mand that teach­ers pay a pre­mium share for health ben­e­fits, pro­pos­als to al­ter an early re­tire­ment in­cen­tive and dis­agree­ments on how much to pro­vide for pay in­creases.

Cherinka said ne­go­ti­a­tions re­cently “have been on a stand­still” be­cause they are wait­ing on health in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion from High­mark. The union hopes to get the in­for­ma­tion Mon­day, so it can fi­nal­ize an in­sur­ance pro­posal that “will show sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial sav­ings for the district,” Cherinka said.

The district will make a counter of­fer on wages based on health care sav­ings and what the district can af­ford with­out in­creas­ing the prop­erty tax rate more than the max­i­mum in­dex amount es­tab­lished by the state, DeLuca said. The state each year es­tab­lishes in­dex amounts for each school district’s tax rate based on cost fac­tors, and they typ­i­cally range from 3 per­cent to 4 per­cent.

Cur­rent Dal­las teacher salaries are based on a pay ma­trix from the last union agree­ment. An­nual salaries range from $34,501 to $80,886. The av­er­age salary for union mem­bers is $62,412, records show.

ThE CiT­i­zENS’ VoiCE filE

Dal­las teach­ers walk the picket line last year. The union is ready­ing for an­other strike this week in the on­go­ing con­tract dis­pute.

THE CIT­I­ZENS’ VOICE FILE

Stick­ing points over the last year in the on­go­ing Dal­las teach­ers con­tract dis­pute have in­cluded pay raises and health ben­e­fit costs.

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