Abington Heights School District Negotiations
Abington Heights School District recognizes the importance of keeping our community informed of developments in negotiations with the teachers' union. Click on the topics in the upper banner to gain more information including information on the strike scheduled for March 1, 2018.
Update-February 8, 2018
The Abington Heights negotiations committee met with union leadership on February 8, 2018. The meeting began with the district negotiations team providing an update to the union on the district's research into lowering the cost of the prescription drug plan. The district reported that it has identified changes in the prescription plan that it believes will benefit both the district and union members. Following the presentation on the prescription plan, the district updated its proposal to the union. The district reinstated the proposal it had in place prior to the strike in September. The proposal has greater demands for employee contributions, lower salary increases, and more restrictions on other benefits in the contract. The district took this step in response to the union's withdrawal of its proposal on September 21, 2017 (see Update-September 21 below for details ) . Although the union increased its demands on September 21, 2017, the district did not respond in kind in the hopes of building on the significant progress that had been made in discussions leading up to that date. Regrettably, the union has not moved from the demands it made on September 21 that include no employee premium contributions and 3.85% raises in each of the next 5 years. Union leadership has incorrectly assumed that in response to concessions made by the district it could increase its demands and also expect further concessions. The district's decision to revert to its original proposal, as the union did on September 21, 2017, is a necessary and predictable response to the negotiations strategy employed by union leadership.
Upon receiving the district's proposal, union leadership requested time to review it. Union leadership then decided to walk out, leaving the independent state mediator to inform the district negotiations committee that the union had left the building. The mediator further stated that union leadership said they would not schedule any more negotiations sessions prior to their strike scheduled for March 1, 2018.
The district negotiations committee is committed to finding ways to resolve the contract dispute. It is obvious to the committee that no solution will be reached without the parties meeting to work through their differences. The district's committee also believes that union leadership owes the community its best effort to resolve the contract before imposing the strike it plans for March 1, 2018. In response to union leadership's actions, the district's lead negotiator, John Audi, sent the following email to the union's lead negotiator, William Lydick:
to William Lydick
The District’s negotiations team is dismayed that the Association left the premises yesterday without notice to the District and without allowing for an opportunity to continue bargaining. To say that the team is dismayed with the message the Association sent through the mediator would be an understatement: the Association’s refusal to meet and bargain prior to the strike date of March 1st is nothing short of a reckless. The District cannot let this “hiatus” stand without attempting to reach an agreement and avoid the intended strike. This can only happen by meeting. Therefore, the District proposes the following as dates available for bargaining: February 12, 13, 15, 19, and 26 to begin at the usual time of 6:30. Please advise which of these dates the Association will meet. A continued refusal to meet will be considered a refusal to bargain which, as you know, is a violation of the bargaining laws.
I will await your response.
John G. Audi
SWEET | STEVENS | KATZ | WILLIAMS
Update-November 29, 2017
The Abington Heights negotiations committee met with union leadership on November 29, 2017. The union's medical benefit consultant presented information and responded to questions. No written documentation was provided by the consultant. Upon request by the district negotiations committee, the consultant agreed to provide documentation of the specifics of the union's prescription proposal. The documentation is expected early next week. Once received, the district will review the information and prepare a response. The next meeting is scheduled for December 13, 2017.
Update-November 8, 2017
The Abington Heights negotiations committee met with union leadership on November 8, 2017. Discussions centered around the union's most recent proposal, especially regarding the prescription plan. The district and union agreed to work to find answers to questions raised about the plan and discuss the matter again in the next session scheduled for November 29, 2017.
Update- October 23, 2017
The Abington Heights negotiations committee met with union leadership on October 23, 2017. Union leadership presented a proposal for a term of 5 years that included 3.85% annual raises and no employee premium contributions to healthcare. Included in the proposal was a provision that changed the administrator for the union’s prescription plan. It was credibly suggested by union leadership that this change would result in savings for the district although no numbers were included in the proposal. The Abington Heights negotiations committee agreed to review the union’s proposal and have a response for the next meeting scheduled for November 8, 2017.
Update- October 4, 2017
The Abington Heights School Board approved an updated 2017-2018 school calendar. The calendar can be accessed by clicking this link.
Update- October 2, 2017
The Abington Heights School District met with union leadership on October 2, 2017. Union leadership reiterated its demand for 3.85% raises each year for a period of 5 years with no contributions to medical premiums for the term of the contract. In response the district maintained its proposal for a three year contract with 2% raises and employee contributions of $80 per month.
The next negotiations session is scheduled for October 23, 2017.
Update-September 21, 2017
The Abington Heights negotiations committee met with union leadership in a negotiations session. The Abington Heights negotiations committee stated that in acknowledgement of the union's return to work it would keep its current offer on the table. The offer provides 2% raises, requires union members to receive the same medical benefits as district administrators including an $80 per month contribution and allows Abington Heights to provide benefits that are equal to or better than currently received by union members. In response union leadership increased their demands for raises from 2.35% to 3.85%. Union leadership stated that they would not entertain any contributions to medical benefit premiums and took the position that the 3.85% raise was discounted to reflect this refusal. As a result of union leadership's position, the two sides left the meeting farther apart than when the meeting began.
Update- September 20, 2017
The Abington Heights School Board held a public meeting on September 20, 2017. The Board presented information to the public regarding negotiations with the teachers union. The meeting can be viewed on YouTube. Union leadership notified the Board that the strike would end and students could return to school on Friday, September 22, 2017. The union also announced and followed up by letter that there will be another strike beginning on January 2, 2018.
Update-September 18, 2017
The Abington Heights negotiations committee and the teacher union leadership had a negotiations session on September 18, 2017 at 8AM in the district’s administration office.
In attendance was an independent mediator employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. This independent mediator has attended all of the approximately 20 negotiations sessions between the parties since January 2017.
Following exchanges between the parties, the independent mediator made a formal proposal. The independent mediator proposed that the union halt its strike and both the district and union enter into fact finding. Fact finding is a formal process that requires both sides to present their proposals and supporting information to an experienced arbitrator. The arbitrator then makes recommendations that are shared with the public. Both sides are obligated to vote on the arbitrator’s recommendations.
The district and union committees discussed the mediator’s proposal in caucus. The Abington Heights negotiations committee enthusiastically accepted the proposal. Regrettably, union leadership rejected it stating its strike will continue.
The independent mediator, as an alternative, proposed the union take the district’s current offer to its members for a vote. The union rejected bringing the district’s current proposal to a vote of its members.
Finally, the independent mediator suggested a $1000 non-recurring bonus to teachers with no changes in health care, including no employee contributions for premiums. The district rejected the proposal citing the importance of including an $80 per month premium contribution to the health care plan.
The strike will continue. The union has not communicated to the district when it plans to end its strike.
The next negotiations session is scheduled for Thursday, September, 21, 2017.
Update-September 17, 2017
The union has repeatedly and publicly claimed that the Board's current offer will set its members back in that the raise offered is less than the cost of changes proposed in medical benefits. This assessment of the Board's offer is inaccurate. The Board's offer will result in averages raises of over $1950. Click to access the district's effort to demonstrate the impact a 2% raise will have on teachers.
Update-September 15, 2017
Abington Heights School District met with the teachers union tonight, September 15, 2017. The district offered to extend 2% raises and the administrator health care plan, including an $80 per month premium contribution, for a three year period. The union emphatically rejected the offer, objecting to any health care contribution. The union offered a one year contract with a 2.35% raise while maintaining no premium contributions to health care.
The AH negotiations committee expressed extreme concern regarding the information that the union has published to the community regarding the salary impact of the district’s offer on bargaining unit members. Union leadership has demonstrated an inability to perform a basic financial analysis of the district’s offer, resulting in grossly inaccurate information being provided to its members and the community. The district provided a detailed financial analysis in support of its position. The district’s proposal will generate $1980 per person average raises unlike the $442 reported by the union.
As a result of the union’s inaccurate analysis, the district suggested that the union provide the district’s analysis to its membership and bring the district’s proposal to a vote. The union rejected the district’s suggestion.
The district will release its financial analysis to the public over the weekend and suggests the union should do the same with its calculations. Upon insistence by the district, a meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 18, at 8AM.
Update-September 14, 2017
The Pennsylvania Department of Education notified Abington Heights today that the last day of the strike can be no later than September 29, 2017. If the union decides to strike the maximum number of days, students will not be back in school until October 2, 2017. The union has not informed AHSD when it plans to end its strike.
Update-September 13, 2017
Following the prior update from earlier today, the union reached out to the district suggesting a negotiations session on Friday evening, 9/15/2017. The district gladly accepted and looks forward to the session.
Update-September 13, 2017
The Abington Heights School Board Negotiations Committee has repeatedly reached out to the union to schedule additional negotiations sessions. AH hoped to meet with the union on Sunday, September 10, in order to build on the progress that had been achieved just a few days before. AH then notified the union stating the district is willing to meet any time in an effort to resolve the labor dispute. After receiving no response, AH today offered to meet on Thursday, September 14, and Monday, September 18. The union rejected the offer. No meetings are scheduled until September 21, 2017. The union's strike continues.
Update-September 10, 2017
Union leadership notified the district last night that there will be no negotiations today, September 10, 2017. Negotiations were scheduled for 2PM in the district administration office. Abington Heights' board committee, administration and labor counsel were prepared to meet in the hope of advancing the productive discussions that occurred on September 7, 2017. There are now no meetings scheduled between the parties prior to the strike date set for September 12, 2017.
Update-September 8, 2017
The district and union met on September 7, 2017.
The district offered the union 2% raises and an invitation to join the rest of our community by making modest premium contributions ($80/month) to the excellent health care plan offered to its members. The offer exactly matches in both raises and benefits what has been in place for the district's administrators for years. The union leadership rejected the offer and instead demanded higher raises and no premium contributions to the health care plan. No agreement was reached.
The district then suggested that union leaders should cancel or, at least, delay their strike. The district proposed a joint effort to discuss potential cost saving measures and continue the progress that had been made during the meeting. Union leadership refused to delay the strike. While additional discussion may take place between the district and union over the weekend, the Abington Heights School District community must now be prepared for a strike beginning on September 12, 2017.
Announcements will be made through the district's Twitter account, the district's text notification system (Remind) and local media.