New Castle News


May 30, 2014

VoTech teachers to vote on contract

NEW CASTLE — Teachers at the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center plan to vote on a new contract Wednesday.

The school’s joint operating committee gave tentative approval to a three-year agreement for the 32-member Lawrence County Vocational Technical Education Association last week.

Center director Leonard A. Rich said final approval is pending contract language and the approval of the teachers union.

The existing three-year pact with the teachers expires Aug. 30.

“We were able to reach agreements on the salary and benefits,” Rich said.

The proposed contract will use the teachers’ existing salary schedule, which he said contains “reasonable raises” ranging from 2 to 2.5 percent each year, depending on the salary step of the teacher.

The health care plan being offered, through a consortium, is a qualified high-deductible plan, which the teachers union negotiators have agreed to, Rich said.

The plan has lower premiums and allows the teachers to keep their current doctors. The teachers will pay a portion of the premiums and the school will pay a bigger portion, he explained.

The family plan has a $3,000 deductible and the single plan’s deductible is $1,500. The teachers will pay $350 for the individual plan and the school will pay the remaining $1,150. The teachers will pay $750 for a family plan and the school will pay the difference of $2,300.

The school has agreed to establish a health savings account, under the contract terms, and the 20 percent the district saves on health care premiums will go into the account to help pay for its share and for the raise in the salary schedule, Rich explained.

The purpose of the change in the health care plan is to avoid the Cadillac tax under Obamacare, Rich said.

He said the proposed contract is modeled after contracts in place for teachers in the Laurel and the Union school districts.

Rich said pending final ratification, the new contract would go into effect Sept. 1, except for the health care plan which, by memorandum of understanding, will become effective July 1.

Nick Neve, president of the teachers union, said he plans to make a presentation of the contract details to the union members Wednesday. That will be followed by a vote by the members.

He said he has not yet discussed the proposed contract with the members, but “it’s a good contract, being that it’s good for the school and will help everyone, considering the state that we’re in at this point.”

“My team put a lot of time into this,” Neve said,” and we’re very optimistic that the association members will approve it also.”

The center and the teachers union have been in the bargaining process for about five months, with the key issues being health care and salaries.

The teachers union has five members on the bargaining committee.

Rich represents the school, along with joint operating committee members Leroy Cortez of the Ellwood City school board and Debra Allebach of the Union school board, and Union superintendent, Dr. Alfonso Angelucci, who had been the vo-tech’s superintendent of record this year.

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