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In Pottsgrove Labor Deal, Teachers Move Next

POTTSTOWN PA – During a season of labor negotiation got’chas in the Pottsgrove School District, in which teachers’ union and administration representatives seemed intent on trumping each other in public pronouncements about where talks stand, the next move appears to be up to dues-paying members of the Pottsgrove Education Association.

The district and union jointly announced Monday (Nov. 2, 2015) they had “finally” reached tentative agreement on terms of a new employment contract. No details were offered about salary increases, step-up increases, health care benefits, or health care payments, all of which were said to be at issue during a 10-month bargaining period. The last contract expired Aug. 31.

The announcement said teachers’ union members are scheduled to vote privately on the agreement  Wednesday (Nov. 11, Veterans Day). The Board of School Directors as of Monday had yet to determine a date and time for its vote, the statement added.

However, Pottsgrove chief negotiator and attorney Jeffrey T. Sultanik, chair of the education law group for the Fox Rothschild law firm, told the Reading Eagle newspaper directors would not vote to ratify the deal until the union had already done so.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday (Nov. 10), one day before the teachers’ scheduled decision.

A break-through in the Pottsgrove labor deal came late in the previous week, according to the statement. “On Friday, October 30, the parties concluded their bargaining and immediately began preparations for ratification by the Union’s membership and the Board of School Directors. Details of the Tentative Agreement will not be released until both parties have had an opportunity to review and to vote on the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement,” it said.

The usually private negotiations recently became rancorous and highly public.

The district accused the teachers of preparing to implement a “work-to-rule” strategy that, it claimed, could have curtailed extracurricular activities. Teachers showed up in large groups at board meetings to ask for contract fairness, and later to publicize their dissatisfaction with the pace of discussions. Pottsgrove countered by first releasing limited details of its contract offer to the union, and then by publishing two detailed charts that compared district and union proposals side-by-side.

Photo from Google Images

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