What’s Behind Saucon Teacher Contract Settlement Proposal?

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The following statement was issued by Saucon Valley School Board attorney Jeff Sultanik Sunday. It follows news late last week that after a three-and-a-half-year contract dispute, the school board and the district’s teachers’ union–the Saucon Valley Education Association–have reached a settlement agreement. Teachers reportedly voted to accept that agreement Aug. 27, and the board is scheduled to vote on it at its Sept. 8 meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the high school Audion room. A copy of the six-year professional contract proposal is included in the meeting agenda posted online.
 

YEAR

B STEP 1

M MAXIMUM

M+60 MAXIMUM

2012-2013

$44,232

$72,821

$93,072

2013-2014

$45,582

$74,171

$94,422

2014-2015

$46,932

$75,521

$95,772

2015-2016

$47,871

$77,031

$97,687

2016-2017

$48,948

$78,765

$99,885

2017-2018

$50,049

$80,537

$102,133

 
As the result of a bargaining session that took place on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, the board and association negotiating representatives framed the outline of a tentative agreement that was approved by the teachers association at its Aug, 27, 2015 membership meeting. The tentative agreement addresses the outstanding issues and concerns of the board negotiating team relating to the arbitrator’s recommendations.
The salary benchmarks in the tentative agreement revise the arbitrator’s recommendations downward, particularly at the higher pay portions of the salary schedule as follows:

YEAR

B STEP 1

M MAXIMUM

M+60 MAXIMUM

2012-2013

$44,232

$72,821

$93,072

2013-2014

$45,562

$73,826

$94,077

2014-2015

$46,892

$74,831

$95,082

2015-2016

$48,222

$75,836

$96,087

2016-2017

$49,552

$76,841

$97,092

2017-2018

$50,882

$77,846

$98,097

 
Over the six-year term of the tentative agreement, salaries will increase as follows: 
  • Starting salary (step 1) from $44,232 to $50,882 
  • Maximum salary (step 14) from $93,072 to $98,097
  • Average salary on the schedule from $65,105 to $70,943

Salary changes in the two past years, excluding the 2012-13 district-wide salary freeze year, will be paid retroactively.

The compromise achieved by the negotiating parties basically met the arbitrators recommended starting step 1 salary, but reduced the arbitrator’s $102,133 maximum step 14 salary to $98,097 in an approach similar to the board’s Feb. 26, 2015 proposal.

Though not changed from the arbitrator’s recommendations, the tentative agreement calls for an increase in premium share from $45 per month for single coverage to $80 per month for single coverage by the end of the collective-bargaining agreement and from $95 per month for family coverage to $190 per month for family coverage by the end of the collective bargaining agreement. In-network deductibles will increase from a $250 single deductible to a $500 single deductible by the end of the collective bargaining agreement and from a $500 family deductible to a $700 family deductible by the end of the collective-bargaining agreement. Office visit co-pays increase from $15 per office visit to a range of $20-$40 per office visit.

The tentative agreement clarifies the retirement recommendations of the arbitrator and also changes the six credits per year modification for column movement to nine credits per year, which was consistent with the board’s last best offer.

The tentative agreement also changes long-term substitute compensation levels, clarifies the obligations of teachers beyond the regular workday, and provides for additional hours for professional development purposes and meetings.

The tentative agreement largely leaves the retiree health insurance benefit and the retirement incentive as per the current contract. These were two seriously negotiated issues, for which the arbitrator ruled to maintain the status quo in admittedly confusing language.

Any solution after a long and stressful negotiation will leave both parties shorted on their expectations and goals, but pending the board’s acceptance of the tentative agreement, both parties are anxious for the opportunity to move the district forward.

Individual board members will make their specific comments about the tentative agreement at the board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The union leadership will also make comments that evening.

 

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