At 10:30PM on September 5, 2012, representatives of the T/E Board of School Directors and the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association reached a tentative agreement for a successor collective bargaining agreement.
The existing collective bargaining agreement expired on June 30, 2012. The details of the tentative agreement will not be publically disseminated until both parties ratify the tentative agreement. The Board will vote on the tentative agreement at its
October 22, 2012 regularly scheduled meeting.
The negotiating session was five hours in duration and took place in front of state mediator Robert B. Birnbrauer. Karen Cruickshank, Board President, and Deb Ciamacca, Negotiation Chair, both expressed thanks to their respective teams for working through a challenging contract negotiation process in the midst of this unprecedented economic climate.
Board’s decision to reject impartial Fact Finder’s report further exposes its inflexibility
Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association President Laura Whittaker is calling on the members of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District board to reverse their decision to reject an impartial Fact Finder’s report intended to settle the district’s expired contract with TEEA members.
In the fact-finding process, a neutral, third-party arbitrator reviewed the contract proposals of each side and made recommendations intended to settle the expired contract. The review took 40 days. Once the fact finder issued the report, each party had 10 days to accept or reject the fact finder’s recommendations.
The TESD board rejected the report at its August 9th meeting, and will vote again on the issue during its Monday, August 20, special school board meeting. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. in at the Tredyffrin-Easttown Administrative Offices.
TEEA members voted to accept the Fact Finder’s report even though it contained significant financial sacrifices on their behalf, including approximately $500,000 in lost wages, a reduction in health care benefits, and a loss of tuition reimbursement for professional development.
“School board members have not met with us, and they rejected the Fact Finder’s report without having moved from the original proposal they gave their negotiator in February. They now have another opportunity to vote to settle this contract,” Whittaker said.
Whittaker urges all members of the T/E school community to turn out for Monday night’s school board meeting and make their voices heard. “Parents do not want their children’s education interrupted because of the school board’s stubborn inflexibility,” she said.
“If the board would be reasonable and accept the impartial Fact Finder’s report, it would assure that the school year can start on time and without disruption,” Whittaker said.
On Monday, August 6, the members of TEEA met to discuss and vote on the Fact Finder’s report. Acting as an independent third party, Fact Finder Mr. Timothy Brown carefully examined all of the issues in dispute as well as the District’s finances and revenue potential. By law, TEEA members were required to accept or reject the report in its entirety, and the membership voted to accept the report.
Under the provisions of the Fact Finder’s report, professional employees would be frozen at the current salary for a year and a half. Association members also agreed to a choice between two less expensive health care plans as well as increases in premium sharing and prescription costs. The report linked no demotions of professional staff with a reduction in tuition reimbursement during the second year of the agreement, a provision that built upon the previously established Memorandum of Understanding which reduced tuition reimbursement in exchange for no demotions during the first year of the contract.
Furthermore, the Fact Finder acknowledged the District’s desire for cost savings by allowing the District, in the second year of the contract, to furlough teachers for up to two full days with a corresponding salary reduction, a provision currently non-existent in any teacher contract in the state of Pennsylvania. TEEA estimates that the furlough days alone would cost TEEA members approximately $500,000 in lost wages.
“We are disappointed by the School Board’s choice to reject the report and stated efforts that they would like to continue bargaining,” TEEA President Laura Whittaker said.
“By voting to accept the report, TEEA members have acknowledged the need for shared sacrifice. We believe that the report offers a fair and reasonable contract settlement. We urge members of the public to read the full Fact Finder’s report that is available on our website and ask the community to support acceptance of the Fact Finder’s report in order to reach a contract settlement so that we can all focus on the education of the children of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District.”
The School Board will take their second vote on the Fact Finder’s report on Monday, August 20 at 8 pm at the Tredyffrin-Easttown Administrative Offices at 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700 in Wayne.
Click here to see the presentation made at the TEEA membership August 6 meeting.
On Thursday, June 7th and Monday, June 18th the Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association and T/E School Board representatives met off-the-record in an attempt to resolve roadblocks to a fruitful contract negotiation process. TEEA would like to maintain transparency with the community as the contract negotiation proceeds. Below, find the developments related to these talks:
Compromise to Move Process Forward
On Thursday, June 14, the Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association and T/E School Board entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that modifies the existing teacher contract for one year.
Recognizing the financial challenges the community is facing, TEEA has agreed to modify the provisions of the teacher contract regarding tuition reimbursement. During the 2012-13 school year, TEEA members agree to temporarily waive tuition reimbursement for all members except for those obligated by the state to continue their post-Bachelor’s education and for those currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program. The Memorandum represents meaningful savings for the District, estimated by TEEA to be more than $400,000. Because of these savings, teacher demotions as a cost-saving strategy was no longer necessary for the passage of the 2012-13 final budget at the June 14th School Board meeting.
TEEA believes this temporary agreement should allow the negotiations process to move forward without the issue of immediate teacher demotions as a hindrance to the process. Nevertheless, our goal continues to be a contract settlement that makes such memorandums unnecessary in the future. We remain committed to a sustainable solution to the financial challenges faced by the District.
On Monday, June 18th, TEEA made a two-year off-the-record proposal that included a reduction in health care benefits, an increase in health care premium share including a shift to percentage-share, a reduction in advanced studies assistance, and a full salary freeze in the first year. In return, TEEA asked for salary schedule advancement for non-master teachers in year two, a one-year-only “off-schedule” salary premium for master teachers in year two, and “no-demotions” language for the duration of the contract. This offer was rejected.
Instead, the District asked TEEA members to take a larger compensation reduction of approximately $8000 per teacher, equaling as much as a 13% reduction for some, and TEEA rejected it.
As a result, TEEA believes that we have reached a bargaining impasse. We have requested fact-finding from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. This is a process under Act 195 that is used to resolve labor negotiations that have reached an impasse. The Labor Relations Board will appoint a fact-finder to hear the case. Both sides will present evidence supporting their position. The fact-finder will issue a non-binding report on the findings and recommend a basis for settlement, which must be voted on by both sides.
TEEA believes that we have made every effort to be reasonable and respectful to the District. The TEEA contract expires on June 30th. We hope the fact-finding process will provide a means to contract settlement in the absence of fruitful bargaining.
We thank the community for your continued support and encourage residents to stay informed as the fact-finding process moves forward.