Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Press Release - 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
The Neshaminy Board of School Directors today announced that the latest round of negotiating sessions with the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT) ended with no progress towards an agreement.
After the NFT rejected the initial proposal to implement a Blue Cross managed care health plan, the School Board agreed to offer a Personal Choice plan under which certified staff would continue to enjoy a health benefits package that does not require enrollment with a primary care physician, referrals for specialist care, or drug formulary restrictions.
Neshaminy remains the only district in Bucks County where employees currently pay nothing toward their health care premiums. In light of the fact that every other district has had premium contributions for years, the Board has proposed contribution rates of 15%, 16% and 17% over three years. Moving to a less expensive Personal Choice plan and instituting premium contributions for the first time would cover the costs of the Board’s offer to increase average salaries by more than 3% for returning staff (including built-in step increases).
Unfortunately, the NFT's response to the Board's latest proposal indicates a clear unwillingness to recognize the dire financial troubles that the District and taxpayers face during these challenging economic times. If the Union’s latest proposal were accepted, health care costs would increase next year by $1.8 million. This is on top of the $1.3 million increase in costs already being incurred this year due to the required retention of the old health plan. Until this negotiating position changes, there can be no contract agreement.
For over a year, the NFT has indicated no willingness to agree to any meaningful changes in the current health benefits package. In addition, they continue to propose a salary schedule increase that would lead to average annual raises of more than 6% per year. Taken together, the union’s salary and health benefit proposals would increase District costs by an estimated $5.4 million next year alone.
The District wants and insists on a fair contract for its valued teaching staff. At the same time, we are facing a potential budget deficit of $14 million for next year that must be closed by June. Neshaminy remains the only district in Bucks County where teachers pay nothing toward their health care premiums, have the single source drug provision, receive a $27,500 lump-sum cash payment at retirement along with a full benefits package until age 65, and receive salary credit for enrolling in non-Masters Degree courses. Especially during the worst economic crisis in 75 years, when residents are losing their jobs and seeing their retirement savings cut in half, the Neshaminy School Board believes it is unreasonable and unfair to expect taxpayers to continue to support outrageous salary demands and benefits for teachers that are so far out of line with what everyone else offers.

For further information, contact Board President Ritchie Webb at:
rwebb@neshaminy.k12.pa.us OR 215-945-9322