The North Hills School Board Monday approved a three-year contract with the Service Employees International Union. The union represents the district's 59 custodial and maintenance workers. Union members ratified the contract on Oct. 21. The previous six-year contract expired on June 30, and employees have been working under the terms of the previous contract.
“We are pleased that the employees and the district could work together to reach an agreement that is equitable for all parties involved,” said Tim Burnett, North Hills Board of Education president. “Balancing the needs of our taxpayers and desires of district employees can be a challenge, but I am proud that we were able to find a compromise that satisfies our employees and maintains the district's fiscally responsible ideals.”
In the new contract, 65 percent of custodial and maintenance employees, who are at the top of the district’s salary scale, accepted a wage freeze for the contract’s first year. The average salary increase will be 1.43 percent in the first year of the contract, 1.72 percent in the second year and 1.99 percent in the third and final year. Additionally, all new employees will receive individual healthcare packages but will now pay additional funds for family benefits.
The contract comes as pension costs affiliated with the Public School Employees' Retirement System are expected to skyrocket, and healthcare costs are projected to jump 10 to 15 percent next year due to insurance uncertainties between UPMC and Highmark.
“School districts across Pennsylvania are in the midst of difficult economic times, and North Hills is no different,” said Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino, North Hills superintendent. “This contract represents a sustainable compromise by employees and the district in an uncertain funding environment.”
Negotiating teams for the school district and the union have been meeting since January. The newly approved contract expires in June 2015.
“We are grateful to have reached an amicable agreement with the district that preserves our vital positions. We realize that in those tough economic times, there is always some give and take in negotiation processes,” said Dee Spade, SEIU president. “As many of our employees are residents of North Hills School District, our first priority has been and will always remain the North Hills students.”
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