The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Phoenixville, teachers can't agree on contract despite 3 years of negotiations


By Frank Otto, fotto@pottsmerc.com

Friday, February 1, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE ó Entering their third year of negotiations, the Phoenixville Area School District and the Phoenixville Area Education Association made some progress in proposals but a new contract remains elusive.
Both sides met the night of Jan. 23 for three hours and 45 minutes, according to a release from the Phoenixville Area School District.
The education association gave the district a counter proposal to its latest offer, which was then countered by another district offer, the release said.
ďFollowing the presentation of the districtís counter proposal to the (education association), the parties caucused,Ē the release said.
That meeting was attended by William Gross, the director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation. After caucusing, the district gave Gross five separate dates in February when the two sides might bargain again.
ďThe district was then informed by Director Gross that the (education association) rejected the districtís counter offer and would not discuss dates for future bargaining sessions,Ē the release said.
According to an analysis of the offers proposed by both sides on the school districtís website, each side made changes to meet in their proposals.
Among those changes, the teachersí union adjusted some of its positions regarding salaries, meeting district numbers that would be retroactive to 2011-12 and would come into effect this year.
Additionally, changes were made on both sides regarding their positions on health care.
The district moved from a proposal that education association members make contributions of 7 percent in 2012-13 and 8 percent in 2013-14 on medical, health, dental, vision and prescription plans to 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
The union adjusted its offer from 5 percent and 6 percent of the medical premium only in those years to 6 percent in 2012-13 and 7 percent in 2013-14.
There was also some movement on the education associationís side regarding retirement and severance pay. The education association upped its offer from $17,500 to $20,000 for a one-time stipend placed into a 403(b) account for those retiring with 30 years of service as a Pennsylvania teacher and 20 years of service in the district. However, they did adjust their position to eliminate severance pay, which they previously proposed to maintain.
Negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing since January 2010. The teacherís contracts expired in the summer that year.
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.