Dal­las teach­ers union, district close to deal on un­used sick days

Teach­ers in the Dal­las School District cur­rently re­ceive $23 for each un­used sick day — the low­est in the re­gion.

The Citizens' Voice - - Front Page - BY MICHAEL P. BUF­FER staff Writer

Ne­go­tia­tors for the Dal­las School District and the teach­ers union go back to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble Tues­day, and of­fi­cials say they ap­pear to be close to an agree­ment on at least one is­sue — in­creas­ing the pay to re­tir­ing teach­ers for un­used sick days.

It’s cur­rently $23 for each un­used sick day. The district pro­posed in­creas­ing that pay to $65.

Dal­las Busi­ness Man­ager Grant Palfey said the district hopes the in­crease would pro­vide an in­cen­tive for teach­ers to ac­cu­mu­late sick days, in­stead of call­ing off sick.

The cost of pay­ing for un­used sick days is less than the cost of pay­ing sub­sti­tute teach­ers $125 day to fill in for teach­ers who call off sick, Palfey said.

The pay for un­used sick days varies con­sid­er­ably in neigh­bor­ing school districts, ac­cord­ing to a re­view of union agree­ments. The cur­rent amount in Dal­las in the low­est in the re­gion, and North­west Area has the high­est amount at $75 for each un­used sick day.

State law cur­rently re­quires teach­ers get at least 10 sick days a year, and they can ac­cu­mu­late over time when not used, Palfey said. Wy­oming Val­ley West teach­ers get 11 sick days a year, ac­cord­ing to their union agree­ment.

Some districts limit the num­ber of un­used sick days el­i­gi­ble for pay when a teacher re­signs, re­tires or dies. The max­i­mum in Dal­las is cur­rently 150 days.

In Lake-Lehman, it’s $60 per day with a max­i­mum of 100. Hanover Area has $65 with a max­i­mum of 200.

Wilkes-Barre Area pays $30 for each day up to 100 and $25 for each day af­ter 100. WilkesBarre Area also pays the ben­e­fi­ciary of a teacher who dies $70 for each un­used sick day with a max­i­mum amount of $7,000.

Greater Nan­ti­coke Area pays $40 a day. Crest­wood pays $55 per day to re­tir­ing teach­ers. It’s $30 a day in Wy­oming Area and $50 for each day up to 150 in Pittston Area.

Wy­oming Val­ley West pays $60 a day with an ad­di­tional $10 a day for teach­ers who don’t qual­ify for a re­tire­ment in­cen­tive their ser­vice year ex­ceed the qual­i­fy­ing amount.

Dal­las ne­go­ti­a­tions

The last la­bor agree­ment with the Dal­las teach­ers union ex­pired in Septem­ber 2015, and they are plan­ning another strike on Jan. 22.

Teach­ers went on strike in 2016 from Nov. 14 to Dec. 19 and also this year from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3. Stick­ing points in­cludes agree­ing on amounts for pay in­creases, health care cov­er­age and changes to an early re­tire­ment in­cen­tive.

The district on Oct. 30 pro­posed a five-year agree­ment, which would cover 2015-16 and 2016-17 but not in­clude retroac­tive pay in­creases for those years. The av­er­age salary for union mem­bers would in­crease from $62,392 last year to $73,840 this year, $76,207 in 2018-19 and $78,567 in 2019-20, ac­cord­ing to the district of­fer.

On Jan. 3, the union put a new of­fer on the ta­ble that in­cludes pay in­creases for 2020-21, Palfey said, adding those pro­posed pay in­creases would cost $510,000 that year. The cost of pay in­creases in the district’s of­fer would be $1.9 mil­lion this year, Palfey said.

The district of­fered ad­di­tional pay this year to make in­creases from mov­ing up pay steps more eq­ui­table and to com­pen­sate teach­ers for not get­ting pay in­creases in 2015-16 and 2016-17, Palfey said. The cost of pay in­creases in 2019-20 would be $405,000, he said.

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