Penn Hills teachers approve five-year contract

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Penn Hills teachers approve five-year contract

Post  HopefulInPh on Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:14 pm

Friday, April 23, 2010
Last updated: 7:55 pm

Buzz up!

Penn Hill teachers on Friday overwhelmingly approved a five-year contract that freezes pay the first two years and grants modest raises in the final three.

The contract, approved by a 356-50 vote by the members of the Penn Hills Education Association, also significantly increases the amount teachers contribute toward health care.

The school board is scheduled to vote to approve the contract at a special school board meeting at 8 tonight.

Teachers would receive a 1 percent raise the third year of the contract, 2 percent the fourth year and 3 percent the last year. Beginning in the second year, eligible teachers would receive annual longevity bonuses based on their years of service.

Ryan Osario, president of the Penn Hills Education Association, which represents the district's 417 teachers, said teachers were willing to accept "much less than they wanted" because of the state of the economy.

"I think the vote is an indication that they fully understand what the economic climate is these days," he said. "It's not the greatest contract, but it's something we can live with."

Board President Joe Bailey said there "was no reason to believe" that the board would not approve the contract, which is retroactive to the start of this school year.

The biggest change for teachers will be the switch in the way they contribute toward medical insurance.

Currently, teachers pay 1.2 percent of their salaries toward health care, which will remain unchanged during the first year of the contract.

But in the second year, teachers will pay 4 percent of the cost of the premium, followed by 5 percent the third year, 6 percent the fourth year, and 7 percent the last year.

State employees pay an average of 8 percent of the cost of their health care premiums. Workers in the private sector pay an average of 23.9 percent.

The district also has offered eligible teachers a one-time retirement incentive that provides medical insurance from the time they leave the district until they receive insurance through another employer, are covered by their spouse's insurance, or are eligible for Medicare.

Among the requirements to be eligible, teachers must have 35 years of service, or be 60 years old and have 30 years of service.

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