New Kensington-Arnold negotiators ‘still stuck’ on health care as teacher contract talks continue

A new contract continues to elude the New Kensington-Arnold School District and its teachers’ union.

Negotiators from the school district and the New Kensington-Arnold Education Association met for four and a half hours Thursday night, said Terry Schrock, school board member, chief negotiator and district spokesperson.

While pointing to “some movement on both sides,” Schrock said they were “still stuck on health care.”

Education association vice president Andrew DeAntonio also said health care was the only remaining issue.

“Our union made several offers to meet in the middle to work out this contract last night,” DeAntonio said. “Our offers were both fair and fiscally responsible. District finances are not an issue here. They have sufficient resources to settle this contract fairly and equitably. It seems to us that the board simply wants to punish our members.

On March 1, Schrock said the district’s proposal would increase the monthly contribution for single coverage from $65 to $125 in the first year of a new contract, and the contribution for family coverage from $125 to $250.

It was not immediately clear whether the district had since changed that offer.

The union said its proposal would keep its members in the middle of Westmoreland County school districts on health care, while they are “near the bottom” on pay.

The association said its latest offer was to raise the family plan’s monthly premium from $125 to $185. No information was given on the individual payment.

“It’s particularly infuriating that the board also admitted to us that they wanted to build up their cash reserves by charging our members more for health care,” DeAntonio said. “We’re just trying to maintain the status quo in the county.”

The last contract between the district and the union expired on August 31.

Earlier this month, union members authorized a strike, but no date has been set for it.

“Patience is running out with the council’s continued unwillingness to treat us with respect,” DeAntonio said.

Schrock said district and union negotiators are scheduled to meet again on April 6.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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