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Waynesboro teachers vote against two board proposals

Contract impasse has continued for almost two years

May 30, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Waynesboro Area School Board Member Rita Daywalt held a one-person press conference Wednesday night at the school board administrative office to announce that no agreement had been reached. The teacher's union was invited but was not present at the press conference.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Waynesboro Area School District teachers on Wednesday rejected two “bottom-line” proposals, continuing a contract impasse that has lasted for almost two years.

The Waynesboro Area School Board developed the proposals Tuesday based on sessions mediated by a former superintendent of another school district.

Board members rejected the actual written proposal from the mediation because they said it was inaccurate, but they did pass two possible agreements onto the teachers union.

But the union, the Waynesboro Area Education Association, rejected those proposals, saying the options were never negotiated.

“The Association will not consider non-negotiated proposals including what was given to (union president) Mike Engle this morning, May 30, 2012, and will send the bargaining team back to the bargaining table,” a motion passed unanimously by the teachers said.

“We presented what we believe to be the very best offer that the district was capable of making without undue tax burden on the community or placing the district in financial peril in the next several years, while also being fair to what the teachers were asking for. We’re just not able to reach an agreement at this time,” school board member Rita Daywalt said.

Neither side released details of what was included in the proposals. The board and teachers first met at the bargaining table in early 2010 in anticipation of the last contract expiring June 30, 2010.

Daywalt, who met with the media Wednesday evening, said what she called “bottom-line options” would allow for salary hikes by teachers making increased contributions to their health insurance.

The board wants to tie salary increases to savings from its health insurance premiums, and it is refusing retroactive salary increases for 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Daywalt said the district cannot make health insurance coverage changes after June 15 for 2012-13. She said the two proposals sent to the union could avoid layoffs and preserve jobs.

“Any (contract) deal that is not signed by June 15 will not result in changes to the health insurance because we’ll already be locked in for the year, which means there will be no savings to fund raises for that year. The board absolutely, unequivocally will not raise the (property tax) millage to fund salary or benefits packages,” she said.

In a news release, the union said the board “continues to move farther away from a fair settlement.” It claimed a “lack of integrity” among board members for rejecting the mediation proposal and having “reduced its offer to settle the contract.”

“The membership was angry that the board gave ultimatums instead of negotiating any possible changes with the bargaining team,” WAEA said  in the release.

Daywalt said she thought Wednesday would close differently than what it did.

“I left that (Tuesday) meeting with Mr. Engle completely positive and very hopeful we’d be standing here today jointly, presenting you with a tentative agreement,” she said.

“The board apparently had concerns about the mediator’s proposal and voted it down and then modified it. Our membership also had concerns with the mediator’s proposal. Therefore, the parties need to return to the table, discuss the concerns, and negotiate a fair settlement,” the union said in the release.

Calling the impasse “an open sore in the community,” Daywalt said she is hopeful the school year will finish without a teacher strike as authorized by a WAEA vote earlier this month.

“We’re very sad for this district and the students in this district at this point,” she said.

Even if the two sides developed a three-year contract now, they would not be away from the bargaining table for long. The new contract would serve years 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13, meaning negotiations for the contract after that would begin in January 2013.

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