2/24/08

Union negotiators dizzy willing school board

School officials at Carlisle (PA) are still unsure what prompted the teachers’ union to table action Thursday on the proposed “early bird” contract. “I don’t know what took place on the association side,” board President Fred Baldwin said Friday night. “The board simply felt if for whatever reason that they needed more time, we certainly should respect that and not act without knowing.”

A district release sent out Tuesday stated the tentative agreement, which would start in August 2009 and run through August 2012, was ready for final adoption from the board.

The three-year deal, if accepted, would include teacher salary increases of 4.25 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent, and health care premium sharing of 15 percent, 16 percent and 16.66 percent. Carlisle’s current starting salary for teachers is $38,140 per year.

“We have a responsibility to the public to inform them of an important decision before it happens,” Baldwin said. “We held off doing that until the union leadership could brief the membership.”

Board and union negotiators wouldn’t be at this point, he added, if they didn’t feel the early bird option offered advantages.

“It enables all of us to spend the next three to four years focusing solely on education, without any distractions,” Baldwin said. “I think we just have to wait and see.”

Carlisle Area Education Association President Laurie Smith refused to comment on the delay.

The proposal resembles the existing contract which gave teachers salary increases of 3.75, 4, 4 and 4.25 percent and had them pay 6, 8, 10 and 14 percent of health care costs.

That contract was settled about two years ago after 18 months of negotiations and a five-day strike.

Bargaining units had been talking for about a month and a half before this tentative agreement was presented. A new deal would go into effect in August 2009.

“It’s unlikely we would ratify or turn down anything in advance of knowing whether it’s acceptable to the union,” Baldwin said, in light of the special board meeting scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. “Its costs could be justified by the stability it gives the district for the next four years.”

(cumberlink.com)

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