Milton teachers reject school district offer
Tuesday, Milton’s teachers union’s negotiation team rebuffed a settlement proposal by the district that would have signed the teachers union to a three-year contract covering 2009 through 2012.
The offer would have given the union and the district a one-year buffer between a settlement and another round of contract negotiations, but would have forced the union to switch to a less expensive health insurance carrier—a move the teachers union has resisted.
Milton Schools Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said the offer, which the district proposed June 21, was the district’s final attempt to settle the dispute outside of arbitration.
“It’s very unlikely that the board would submit another settlement offer at this point. We’re now resigned to wait for an arbitrator’s offer, and to accept whatever that might be,” Nikolay told the Gazette Wednesday.
Labor negotiations became deadlocked in January over a health insurance dispute between the district and the union. The union seeks to keep its current health insurance carrier, while the district proposes a switch that it argues could save the district $1 million.
A state-appointed arbitrator’s decision, which will uphold either the district’s proposal or the union’s, could be rendered as early as mid-October.
Nikolay said he was “disappointed” the union’s negotiation team had apparently reviewed the offer without submitting it to the full union membership.
“It doesn’t appear based on what I was e-mailed that it was taken any further than the (union’s) negotiation team. I think that the (union) membership should have been allowed to consider it,” Nikolay said.
Union President Shelly Kress was unavailable for comment Wednesday but had submitted an e-mail to the Gazette late Tuesday evening.
The e-mail said that after review Tuesday, the union’s negotiation team decided the district’s settlement offer was “unacceptable.”
The e-mail said the union had proposed paying for a percentage of its current health insurance policy in an attempt to hold the line on costs, and that the union had made cost-saving concessions on health care coverage during the last round of negotiations.
“The teachers’ arbitration proposal is fair and should be accepted by the board,” the e-mail said.
Meanwhile, teachers are poised to start the second consecutive school year working under the terms of an expired labor contract.