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School unions consider concessions

Gloversville district seeks savings on pay, benefits

April 2, 2011
By AMANDA WHISTLE , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Gloversville Enlarged School District officials have received word from some of the district's eight bargaining units on a proposal that the district says could save a combined $1.6 million if all employees accept salary freezes and switch health insurance coverage.

The unions were asked to submit their responses no later than Monday, and Superintendent Robert DeLilli said some already have responded, though he wouldn't reveal who or how they answered.

"We responded and they responded, and negotiations are always a matter of give and take and many conversations," said Gloversville Teachers Association President Pat Donovan. "We just settled our contract with a state arbitrator about a year ago, so right now at this point in time we have a legally binding contract. Both of those issues they're discussing are both items that need to be negotiated by law ... "

The GTA is the district's largest bargaining unit, with about 250 members. Its last contract included a 1 percent raise the first year, 1.5 percent raise the second year and another 1 percent raise the third year, on top of incremental step raises.

The agreement also ended legal wrangling over a switch in health insurance plans for the district's teachers. Last school year, the district removed the indemnity plan, which some called a "Cadillac" plan, and replaced it with a PPO plan. The school board did so without union approval.

The GTA later filed a grievance over the switch, which the district said saved more than $1 million in its annual budget. Under the new contract, the GTA accepted that change.

Attempts Friday to reach the heads of the Gloversville Administrative Supervisory Staff Association and the Buildings and Grounds and Transportation Department were unsuccessful.

The other bargaining units include: Gloversville Teaching Assistants; Gloversville Teacher Aides and Monitors; Office Personnel; and Gloversville Food Service Workers.

Officials said if all employees accept freezing salaries and step raises, the savings would equal $600,000. If all of the employee groups switch from their Blue Cross Blue Shield Preferred Provider Organization A plan to the PPO-B, that would save another $950,000, officials said.

DeLilli said if the employees agree not to take a pay increase, he will forgo a 3 percent raise in his own contract.

"I will not ask the employees to do something I won't do," DeLilli said Friday.

He switched last year to the PPO-B plan, which resulted in a 25 percent increased cost for him, he said. At the same time, he received a 3 percent raise included in his contract, which expires in 2013.

He said the increased health insurance cost canceled out his raise.

DeLilli joined the district in the 2007-08 school year with a pro-rated salary of $120,000. His salary remained the same for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.

DeLilli said other administrators who are not part of the unions also switched to the PPO-B plan and did not receive raises, but he couldn't say whether they'd forgo raises this time around.

This year, the district faces a $3 million budget gap, reduced to $1.5 million with reserve funds, and further reduced to about $1.3 million with $218,000 in restored state aid in the state budget passed early Thursday morning.

"We're going to wait until [Monday] to get all of this compiled," DeLilli said. "At this point we're waiting. We have a couple meetings scheduled but we're waiting for written responses [from bargaining units]."

Then district officials will review the responses and should have some results by the middle of next week, he said.

The Board of Education had hoped to agree on a proposed budget by April 11, but DeLilli said that maybe pushed to later in the month.

He said he'd like to schedule another budget workshop next week, but the date is tentative.

According to a news release issued by the district, state law prevents school boards from freezing wages without approval from employee unions.

Several of the union contracts weren't scheduled to expire until June 2012, DeLilli said.



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