Palmerton OKs teachers’ contract
In the earliest agreement in memory, Palmerton Area School District and its teachers’ union approved a three-year contract Tuesday night carrying through June 30, 2023.
The current contract between the district and the Palmerton Area Education Association doesn’t run out until June 30, 2020, but both sides were pleased to have business taken care of well in advance of that date.
“Tonight is a celebration for the district,” school board Vice President Tammy Recker said. “The contract is taken care of and everyone can move forward. We made history.”
According to information provided by the district, the contract is set to increase 9 percent over four years and includes a 17-step matrix. Health care deductibles and premium shares remained the same in this contract. Health care deductibles are set at $200/$400 with premium shares at $36 for a single payer and $64 for a family per biweekly pay.
Recker said the overwhelming amount of communication between the two sides speaks volumes.
“It’s not just about the people at the table, it’s about the community and most importantly, the students,” she said.
Michelle Muffley, PAEA president, said the union overwhelmingly voted to accept the contract Tuesday afternoon.
“On behalf of our team, we want to thank the school board for participating in a positive negotiation process,” Muffley said. “Through communication, discussion, we came together, worked together and negotiated this contract. We’d like to thank the entire school board for recognizing the hard work and dedication of the teachers in our district.”
The school board voted 7-0 to approve the contract. Kate Baumgardt and Charles Gildner were absent from the meeting.
During the last contract negotiation, Palmerton teachers went on strike for two weeks in January 2017 and the two sides went to nonbinding arbitration later that year. A contract was eventually approved 20 months after the expiration of the previous one.
This time around, director Earl Paules said, things were done a bit differently.
“I sat with the union on their side of the table and one of their representatives sat on the school board’s side,” Paules said. “We are not two separate teams. We’re one district, one team. There was back and forth, but at the end of the day, I think everyone is happy and the public should be happy as well.”