Thursday, February 17, 2011

Highlights from Meeting #29

Representatives from the NFT and Board met for negotiating meeting #29 this past Tuesday to discuss the health care plan information obtained from our insurance provider by the solicitors representing each side. Since our provider, International Blue Cross (IBX), did not supply us with the information until Monday evening, both parties require additional time to review the data.

It is worth mentioning that nothing provided by IBX contradicts what was reported by the Board during previous discussions, and this should serve as validation that the Board has been completely transparent with the NFT throughout these negotiations.

Before the meeting concluded, Board President Ritchie Webb reaffirmed the Board's position that teachers must contribute no less than 17% towards monthly health care premiums at this time in order for the district to confront its financial and educational challenges. Since health care/benefit costs are our single greatest expense, the Board is unable to consider other aspects of the collective bargaining agreement until this issue is addressed.

The NFT offered no concessions regarding health care premiums during this meeting, nor did they give approval for the Board's proposed self insured Rx plan which would offer substantial annual savings to the district with no benefit impact to our employees.

The State mediator will be contacting both sides to schedule another meeting in the near future.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Healthcare remains a major issue

Negotiation meeting #28 took place earlier today as Ritchie Webb and solicitor Charles Sweet met with Louise Boyd and NFT attorney Tom Jennings. The state mediator, Mr. Cairns, was also present for this meeting that lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Healthcare continues to be one of the major issues that separates the two sides. Mr. Sweet and Mr. Jennings agreed to jointly meet with our healthcare providers to obtain specific financial information. Hopefully this will clarify our costs and coverages, and will help bridge the gap that divides us.

Mr. Cairns requested that we meet again on February 15th, using the same format to review Mr. Sweet's and Mr. Jennings' findings.