Despite the intervention of an independent mediator, there’s still significant distance between the Phoenixville Area School District and its teachers union on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, school board member Paul Slaninka indicated in a statement he read Monday night.
According to Slaninka, after the school board accepted the mediator’s recommendations on November 12—the board had previously rejected the plan, as had the union—the district had a meeting with the Phoenixville Area Education Association (PAEA) two days later, during which the union made its own proposal to the district.
Slaninka said the district determined the union's proposal was less favorable than the deal it had just approved and rejected it. The school district then made a counter-offer in a separate meeting on November 28.
“In the District’s opinion,” Slaninka read, “this counter proposal represented significant movement on the part of the district, further reinforcing the board’s desire to reach a settlement with PAEA.”
The district’s offer included, but was not limited to, the following terms. (Attached to this article is a PDF from the school district outlining the areas of dispute between it and the teachers union):
- The total bonus payment offered to each bargaining unit member for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years increased from $2,000 to $3,000 (this represents a $1,700 bonus for 2011-12 and a $1,300 bonus for 2012-13)
- The proposed salary increase to all bargaining unit members for 2013-14 was increased from 0.6% to 1.0%
- The proposed one half step increase in January 2014 was moved up to August 2013, providing an extra half year of pay at the higher rate
- With respect to healthcare benefits, the district proposed that the bargaining unit members each contribute a percentage of the district’s total healthcare costs for their personal coverage. Currently, each member pays a flat rate of $45 per month for all healthcare coverage—whether that is for single or family coverage.
- The district proposed that members contribute 7% of their total medical costs in 2012- 13 and 8% of their total medical costs in 2013-14.
The PAEA, Slaninka said, did not respond to this offer, but a mediator who attended the meeting said he would contact the district to schedule a subsequent negotiation.
PAEA co-president Catherine Renzulli spoke as a member of the public after Slaninka read the district’s statement and struck a conciliatory note.
“[We’re] grateful for your endless hours of volunteer work,” she told the board. “And we look forward to reaching a fair and equitable agreement as soon as possible.”