West Shore teachers agree to new contract

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. - West Shore teachers accepted a tentative agreement, bringing to a close more than two-and-a-half years of bargaining talks between the district and the West Shore Education Association (WSEA).

On Thursday, the West Shore School Board voted unanimously to accept the proposed agreement that had been hashed out last month, following a lengthy round of bargaining. WSEA members voted today to ratify the contract.

“Our members agreed to shoulder a greater burden of health-care costs in order to reach an agreement that we felt would still meet their needs, as well as those of the district,” said Kevin Downs, a middle-school science teacher and president of the 576-member West Shore Education Association, which represents teachers, counselors, home and school visitors, librarians and psychologists.

“While it’s been a long bargaining process, we appreciate the district bargaining team’s willingness to work with us in the past month to reach a contract before the end of the year.”

The six-year contract runs retroactively from the 2014-15 school year and will expire June 30, 2020.

The new bargaining agreement includes overall salary increases for the following school years:

  • 2014-15: Salary freeze
  • 2015-16: 2.01 percent
  • 2016-17: 2.25 percent
  • 2017-18: 2.5 percent
  • 2018-19: 2.75 percent
  • 2019-20: 2.5 percent

As part of the agreement, newly hired teachers will still earn the same salary of $49,325 for the first four years of the contract. For the 2018-19 school year, new teachers will earn an additional $170. For the 2019-20 school year, their starting salary will increase another $785.

Regarding health-care insurance:

Teachers accepted gradually increasing surcharges for spouses who have existing coverage, but desire coverage under the district medical plan. Beginning in January 2017: they will pay $100 per month in 2017; $150 per month in 2018; $200 per month in 2019; and $250 per month in 2020.

They also agreed to pay increased premium shares for its PPO option and qualified high deductible plan. They accepted decreases in district contributions to their health-savings account plans.

Teachers had been working for 806 days under the terms of their expired contract.