Troy teachers agree to wage freeze, health care concession

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 24, 2011

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Last week, the Troy School District Board of Education unanimously ratified a labor agreement with the Troy Teachers Association that school district officials described as “unprecedented.”

The two-year contract is estimated to save the district $10.2 million in the next two years. It includes a more than 11 percent contribution from teachers’ wages for health care benefits, a freeze on step increase pay raises, and a school year that brings the Troy School District’s calendar in line with neighboring districts and sets June 15 as the last day of school in 2012. The number of student attendance days, 179, will remain the same.

In the past, Troy teachers have paid medical and prescription co-pays, but not a portion of health care premiums.

Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler commended the teachers for recognizing the difficult financial situation the district is in and for their dedication to the students. She said the agreement displays “true compromise.”

Troy Education Association President Tony Lucchi said the focus was to protect classroom programs.

“This was a huge sacrifice,” Lucchi said.

He added that the vast majority of the TEA supported the concessions.

“We love our students, and we love the district,” he said.

Jasen Witt, assistant superintendent who served as lead negotiator for the school district, said the agreement came about as a result of a lot of informal dialogue and collaboration.

He said it was unprecedented for the teachers and the district to come to an agreement before the contract expired. The current TEA contract was set to expire Aug. 14.

“Even when we disagreed, we continued talking and were able to reach an agreement, which will help us in the board’s continued efforts to protect student programs and the exceptional learning environment within TSD despite the funding concerns we face,” Witt said.

He noted that with the change from medical plans to higher deductibles, the district was saving a total of about 20 percent in health care costs compared with last year, which is in line with Gov. Rick Snyder’s request that public school employees pay 20 percent of health care costs.
 

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