First Posted: 6/10/2014
Abington Heights does not have a contract with its teachers’ union because the union rejected the proposal recommended by an independent fact-finder. Fact-finding is a process established by law that empowers an independent officer to make a comprehensive recommendation that, if accepted by both parties, establishes a contract. The teachers’ union requested Fact-finding in 2012 and again in 2014. The Abington Heights Board of Education accepted both fact-finding reports. The union rejected both of them.
Salary and benefits were the focus of the proposed contract. The medical plan recommended in the fact-finding report was exactly the same plan proposed by the union and required no employee contributions for healthcare for the entire term of the contract. Comprehensive family medical, family prescription, family vision and family dental were free for all teachers including through the 2016-2017 school year. Retirees and their spouses receive fully-paid health benefits until age 65.
Teachers receive automatic raises each year based on what is known as a step schedule. They receive an additional raise if they receive college credits in any given year. The fact-finding report awarded an additional $500 to each step every year of the contract over and above the existing step raises. The starting salary for a new teacher would jump from $46,059 to $49,059 in 2016. Teachers would receive credit for years of service by jumping from the 2010 step to the 2013 step. The raises would be retroactive to the 2013-2014 school year. For example, a teacher with 10 years of service as of 2010-2011 earning $58,949 would receive a raise of $5,820 for the 2013-2014 school year. In the final year of the contract (2016-2017) this teacher would earn an annual salary of $69,900. This does not include raises this teacher may receive for any college credits earned during that time period which could push their salary to as high as $75,500.
The district is faced with rising pension and health care costs and reduced funding. The union is demanding 4 percent retroactive raises and a very rich comprehensive health plan without a premium share. The raises would cost the district $14 million cumulatively over the six-year term of the contract. Based on the 2 most recent audits, AHSD health benefits have increased an average of 10.1 percent. The fact-finder recognized that we simply cannot afford to dole out big raises in addition to providing a free Cadillac health plan. The union refuses to yield on either demand as evidenced by their rejection of a very fair compromise.
The Abington Heights Board of Education:
Cathy Ann Hardaway, President
Warren Acker, Vice President
Louise Brzuchalski, Treasurer
Michele Tierney, Secretary