Chambersburg school board, union to vote on tentative deal

March 25, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Kathy Goetz of Fayetteville, Pa., shows her support for Chambersburg, Pa., teachers before the Chambersburg Area Education Association's bargaining team met up with school district negotiators Thursday evening at the school district's administration building. The district's 550-plus teachers have been working under a contract that expired June 30, 2010.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Fifteen months later, Chambersburg teachers may finally have a new contract.

After a 6 1/2-hour meeting Thursday night, negotiating teams for the Chambersburg Area School District and its teachers union tentatively agreed to a new two-year contract, according to a school district news release issued late Thursday.

Details of the agreement have not yet been released, but both sides have scheduled meetings to ratify the deal.

The school board will meet March 30, and the Chambersburg Area Education Association will meet April 6 to potentially sign off on its first new contract since the last one expired on June 30, 2010.

"It was a long one, but we were working hard the whole time so, believe it or not, it seemed to go pretty quick," Dave Snyder, president of the union, said when asked about the long meeting to hammer out an agreement.

Snyder said that although they cannot release any information until both sides have voted on the tentative collective bargaining agreement, it does represent progress, which hasn't always been the case.

"I'm happy that the process hopefully is drawing to a close, although I say that with reservations, because it's not closed until it gets accepted," he said. "I'm happy that we were able to make progress — that's the biggest thing."

The tentative agreement will cover the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, the release said.

In a telephone message Friday afternoon, Sylvia Rockwood, director of human resources for the school district, said they are "looking forward to the ratification of the contract by both sides in the near future."

The two sides have been negotiating off and on for more than a year.

In December, the CAEA membership voted to authorize the union's leadership the power to strike, but it never acted on it. Snyder had said that striking would be the union's last resort.

 Backed by a large contingent of teachers, Snyder said at Wednesday's school board meeting that he expected the "district's best offer," and he may have finally got it.

The union has twice accepted a third-party fact-finder's proposal in the past, which the board turned down.

With their vote scheduled after the board's date, it could potentially be up to the union this time around.

"We have gone first twice, so this time we're going to let them vote first," Snyder said. "We did say (Thursday) night, 'Yes, we've done this twice, so we think it's your turn.' And they were very agreeable to that. It was not contentious at all."

Details of the contract will be released when the deal is accepted by both sides, union and school officials said. The major sticking point for the board throughout the negotiations has been teacher salaries and benefits.

The CAEA represents more than 500 teachers.

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