School dispute ends in Perkins|District, union accept arbitrator's decision

PERKINS TWP. Perkins Schools teachers and administrators can officially put the strike behind them.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

Perkins Schools teachers and administrators can officially put the strike behind them.

The decisions on wage and health insurance have been made for the district by a third party arbitrator and the outcome is final.

"We're happy it's done," said Brian Printy, board president. "We don't know the full impact on the financial forecast yet."

Bob Myer, union spokesman, said Perkins Education Association members feel vindicated that the arbitrator's decisions are similar to the positions they proposed at the end of last summer.

"Mr. Mancini (the arbitrator) recognized that the (union's) proposals were reasonable and ruled accordingly," Myer said.

The two parties agreed in September to let the arbitrator decide on the issues that stalemated them during strike negotiations.

The issue that kept the teachers out of classrooms and on strike -- a health insurance committee -- will exist. Three union members and three board members will form a health care committee to make recommendations on cost-savings and health care issues.

The mandate to form the committee was especially pleasing to the teacher's union, Myer said. The union had proposed such a committee in exchange for members paying a higher cost for health care premiums and changing insurance coverage.

The arbitrator's decision more closely reflected the proposal by the teacher's union, though there will be compromises for both sides.

The teachers will get 2 percent raise for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. A wage freeze will be accepted for the previous contract year. The teachers lost 1 percent of their overall raise request from their proposal and the board had to budge from its three-year wage freeze.

The teachers are required to pay 6 percent of their overall medical insurance premiums with monthly payments capped at $35 for single plan members and $65 for family plan members. This decision is back-dated to Jan. 1. This leaves teachers paying $10 more per month than their proposal and the board paying the difference the cap creates -- a number that can not be defined at this time. The teachers will also be reimbursed for their initial insurance deductibles, something the board wanted discontinued.

According to the arbitrator's decision, teachers also won't pay toward dental insurance prescription drug insurance premiums and spouses of teachers can be on the district's insurance plan even if their employer also offers health insurance.

"We certainly didn't get what we were looking for on holding down our health care cost," Printy said. "We were hoping for more cost sharing with the employees on health care."

The fact that the school district has to pay the deductible is significant, he said.

District Treasurer Lisa Crescimano will now plug the new numbers into payroll and insurance cost equations to update the district's five-year financial forecast. At a 6 p.m. Monday night meeting at Briar Middle School, the school board will use the updated financial forecast to determine the necessity of placing a levy on the August ballot.

Both the board and teachers' union are looking forward to moving past the strife.

"We are hopeful that the district leadership will join us in a return to a collaborative working relationship and negotiating process," Myer said. "The district still faces challenges in our goal to provide the best education possible for our youth."

School board proposal

* Teachers pay 20 percent of all medical insurance premiums for all three contract years.

* Three-year wage freeze for teacher's base salary.

* Teachers' spouses whose employers offered insurance take their employer's insurance plan, not the district's plan.

* Discontinued reimbursement of teachers' health insurance deductibles.

Perkins Education Association proposal

* Teachers pay 5 percent of their medical premiums with a monthly cap of $25 for a single plan and $50 for a family plan.

* Pay freeze for first year of contract and 2 1/2 percent raises the following two years of the contract.

* Included "me too" raise language requiring tit-for-tat raises. If Administration received a 3 percent raise, the teachers would have received the same.

* Form a health care committee consisting of board and union members.

* District would reimburse insurance deductibles.