Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The most attractive bid came from Pritchard Industries, a highly reputable professional services company whose reduced costs of service offer Neshaminy a potential three year savings of $7,216,157. It should be noted that each Pritchard Industries' employee would be required to pass an FBI finger printing test, PA State Police check for criminal record and the PA child abuse check before being permitted to work in the District.
After determining that Pritchard Industries responded with the appropriate bid for second shift janitorial services, the District then provided Pritchard with an RFP for first shift janitorial services. The potential savings for outsourcing this support function equals $1,783,307 over three years.
The total savings offered by Pritchard Industries over three years for both first and second shift janitorial services is $8,999,464.
Below is the final bid tabulation of all vendors considered for second shift janitorial services, followed by the subsequent RFP for first shift janitorial services, and then a summary of potential savings should the Board pursue the outsourcing option for these services:
The Board will continue to negotiate in good faith with NESPA while it accumulates comparative data regarding relative costs of support staff functions. .
Thursday, November 5, 2009
While the Board of course wishes to support these hard-working employees, the same financial pressures that are causing us to ask for substantial changes in the teachers' contract apply to the support staff as well. Put simply, the District and its taxpayers can no longer afford to provide excessive benefits to this or any other employee group. To ascertain just how expensive these benefits are for full-time support staff, the Board has begun the process of investigating the savings that could be realized by contracting out some of this work to third parties. No final decisions regarding third-party contracting have been made.
A summary of the major proposals made by each side to date is provided below. Please note that the District positions discussed below are meant to describe the Board's current proposals, but should not be interpreted as our official position in the event of fact-finding or other legal proceedings.
Contract Length and Outsourcing
The Board proposal calls for a 3-year contract with an agreement not to outsource any work for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 contract years.
The Union has asked for a 5-year contract with no change to the language regarding third-party contracting.
The Board initially proposed 3% raises in each year. After further bargaining that involved a reduction in proposed employee contributions to health care premiums (see below), the Board prepared a counteroffer that included a reduction in the offered wage increase in the first year to help offset some of the increased health care costs the District would incur. The Board's current offer proposes annual wage increases of 1%, 3% and 3%.
The Union proposes annual wage increases of 0% in the first year (provided there is no employee contribution to health care premiums), 3.5% in each of the following 3 years, and 4% in the fifth year.
The base medical plan in the expired contract is Blue Cross PC-15 (the same plan that covers the teaching staff), with no employee contribution to premiums.
The Board initially proposed to change the base medical plan to PC 20/30/70 with 15%, 16% and 17% employee contributions over three years - these are the same provisions offered to the teachers' union, and which administrators and administrative support personnel currently have.
The Union did not accept the Board's offer, and after further bargaining, the Board's current offer is to change the base medical plan to Blue Cross C3-F3-O1, with employee contributions of 10%, 11% and 12% over three years.
The Union's proposal is to keep the PC-15 plan, with employee contributions of 0%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 5% over five years.
Prescription Drug Benefits
The drug benefit plan in the expired contract is Rx 5/20 with no employee contribution to premiums, and with a "single source" provision where brand-name drugs are offered with the lower generic co-pay if no generic equivalent exists. As we have stated with regard to the teachers' contract (which has the same provision), to our knowledge no other District provides this benefit for employees. District-wide the single source provision costs taxpayers over $1 million annually.
After the Union rejected the Board's initial offer of Rx 5/30 with no single source and 15%, 16% and 17% employee contributions, the Board has proposed to change the drug benefit to Rx 5/30/50 including a formulary, and to eliminate the single source provision, with employee contributions of 10%, 11% and 12% over three years.
The Union's proposal is to keep the current Rx 5/20 plan with continued single source and employee premium contributions of 0%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 5% over five years.
Opt-Out and Double-Dipping
The expired contract provides "opt-out" benefits whereby eligible full-time employees who choose not to participate in some or all aspects of the health insurance packages receive a share of the savings that the District realizes from not providing such coverages. There is a loophole in the expired contract that allows an employee whose spouse is also a District employee to receive these opt-out payments even though they are covered by their spouse's enrollment.
The Board proposes to eliminate this "double-dipping" provision. The Union opposes any change.
Under the expired contract, eligible retirees and their spouses receive full medical, drug, dental and vision coverage until age 65 with no premium contributions. Eligibility depends on age at retirement and years of service. Retirees who do not meet the age or years of service requirements may remain in the group medical plan by purchasing coverage at District cost; in addition they are eligible to receive single prescription drug coverage at no cost until age 65, and may purchase family coverage at District cost.
The Board proposes to eliminate these retirement benefits, to be replaced with a provision allowing all eligible retirees to remain in the group medical plan at District cost. The Union opposes any changes to retiree benefits (except that retirees will be placed into the same base medical plan as active employees).
Emergency Shut Downs
Under the expired contract, when an emergency occurs and an employee is sent home before the normal shift is terminated, they are guaranteed pay for at least two hours of service for that day.
The Board proposes to eliminate this provision, and the Union agrees.
Job Elimination Wage Protection
Under the expired contract, if a position is eliminated and the affected employee is reassigned to another position that has a lower wage, then the employee does not receive any reduction in pay.
The Board proposes to eliminate this provision. The Union opposes any change to this provision.
The Board proposes that each NESPA member be required to undergo a drug test at the District's discretion. The Union opposes this proposal.
Under the expired contract, full-time employees are entitled to 12 sick days per year; eligible part-time employees are entitled to 4 sick days per year.
The Board proposes that sick days should no longer count as time worked for the purpose of calculating overtime. The Union opposes this proposal.
Work Rights for Employees Active as of June 30, 1993
Current employees who were active as of June 30, 1993 enjoy several "grandfathered" protections relating to insurance benefits, protection from reduction of regular work hours, part-time benefits, and personal holidays.
The Board proposes to eliminate these special provisions for such employees. The Union opposes changes to these provisions.
The Board has a strong preference to reach a comprehensive, fair agreement with its support staff employees without the need to outsource work. To that end, we believe the proposals we have made represent reasonable changes that will allow employees to continue to enjoy job security along with generous benefit provisions.
However, the Union's refusal to adequately address the above issues, related primarily to benefits for full-time workers, leaves us little choice but to continue to consider contracting with third parties as a partial solution to the financial challenges we face.
Friday, September 25, 2009
The District's final Back to School Night activities for the year will be held next Wednesday, September 30 at Neshaminy High School. Once again the Board asks the NFT to respect State law and refrain from picketing on school property.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
The Board's position from the beginning has been that many of the major provisions of the expired contract cannot continue to be supported by residents. Neshaminy remains the only district in Bucks County where teachers pay nothing toward their health care premiums, incur only generic co-pays for brand-name drugs, receive a large lump-sum cash payment at retirement along with a free health benefits package until age 65, and receive salary credit for enrolling in non-Masters Degree courses. In addition, Neshaminy teachers work fewer contract hours and have fewer steps before reaching the top of the salary scale than any other district. On top of all this, they are asking for annual 6-7 percent salary increases. It is important to note that none of these provisions do anything to improve educational programs for students in Neshaminy.
Unfortunately, the NFT has thus far indicated no willingness to address any of these issues, and with regard to health care coverage has explicitly stated that "paying for health care premiums is non-negotiable, and has been from day one". In this light, their accusation that the District is not bargaining in good faith and is unwilling to compromise rings very hollow.
As stated before on multiple occasions, the Board believes it has presented a fair contract proposal from the start of negotiations in January 2008, offering an average annual salary increase in excess of 3 percent while simply asking the NFT to negotiate contract terms that are similar to what every other District in Bucks County has. Since negotiations began, the nation has experienced its worst economic downturn in 75 years, many local residents have lost their jobs, and residents have seen their retirement nest eggs cut in half. In addition, District-funded teacher pension costs are expected to soar, and State aid to school districts is under severe stress as Pennsylvania deals with its own budget shortfalls. Despite all this, the Board has left virtually all of its proposals intact, and even offered to provide a more comprehensive health plan than its initial proposal.
We continue to hope that the NFT will recognize that "business as usual" is over in Neshaminy. The Board remains receptive to alternative ideas that address the above-mentioned issues, but we cannot expect residents to continue to fund salary and benefit provisions that are so far out of line with what everyone else offers.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Board’s offer – major components of which include an average 3% salary increase for returning staff, enrollment in the Blue Cross Personal Choice 20-30-70 medical plan with employee contributions, and elimination of the retirement incentive – remains intact despite the fact that we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn in 75 years, rising unemployment, and unprecedented pressures on Neshaminy's budget which must fall within Act 1 guidelines.
The NFT’s proposal remains unchanged, calling for retroactive 6-7% annual salary increases, one of the most expensive medical and prescription drug plans in Southeastern Pennsylvania with zero employee contributions, and expanded retirement provisions that include a $30,000 cash payment plus free health care until age 65.
Already one of the highest paid staffs in the entire State, the Union’s proposal would raise the average salary from under $80,000 to over $93,000. Over three years, the estimated salary difference in the two proposals is well over $16 million.
After accounting for existing retirees, the difference in health care costs to the District between the two proposals is about $4 million this year and expected to grow.
No further talks are scheduled at this time.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Both sides agreed to meet again in the near future; a date has not yet been set.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This is consistent with the position taken in writing by the Board negotiating committee since its first proposals were given to NFT on January 29, 2008, almost sixteen months ago, that any overall settlement would be effective only after it was ratified by both sides. No retroactivity of salary or any other contract provision has ever been offered by the Board.
The withdrawal of any salary increases for 2008-2009 modifies the written salary proposal that was made by the Board on April 14, 2008 and which, until now, has remained on the table without change. Further discussion of this and other unresolved issues will take place at the bargaining table.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
- Board offers Administrators same salary and benefits package proposed for teachers
- Proposal would save taxpayers over $250,000 next year
- Change in medical plan from Blue Cross PC15 to less expensive PC 20/30/70
- Change in drug plan from Rx 5/20 with single source exceptions to less expensive Rx 5/30 without single source
- Continued option for Keystone HMO
- Employee contribution to medical and drug premiums of 15%, 16% and 17% over three years
- Reduction of benefit package opt-out sharing from 37% to 25%
- 3% salary increase
- Elimination of retirement incentive program (cash payment and benefits package)
- Elimination of longevity payments (grandfathered for those already receiving payments)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
- Union rejects school board's latest offer
- Teachers insist on zero contribution to health care benefits, 6% pay hike
- Proposal would cost taxpayers additional $5.4 million next year alone
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The next meeting is scheduled for February 12.