The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

April 18, 2014

DEA rep: District’s last offer lower

DANVILLE — The most recent salary and benefits proposal by the Danville school board to the Danville Education Association came in lower than previous offers, according to DEA labor representative Mark McDade.

That proposal, offered in February and publicly revealed by the board at its March 25 meeting, would have given the DEA approximately $832,000 to divide among its 187 members. The DEA would have determined how much of that money went toward each teacher’s salary. The total salary and benefits package of the proposal would have been $3.345 million.

“Their current proposal is less than what they’ve offered in the past, and that’s not good-faith negotiation,” McDade said.

“(The school board’s) only interest is to play politics and pander to the people” instead of coming to an agreement with the teachers, he said.

To answer McDade’s comments about the proposal change, school board president Allan Schappert said he would have to disclose what the DEA’s previous offers and positions had been. “That would be crossing a line into unfair labor practice,” he said.

Schappert said the negotiations McDade is referring to are “not a perfect one for one.” Collective bargaining in general involves two groups attaching different values to different priorities, he said. “It’s a fluid environment, one thing goes up, another goes down. … ‘I’ll give you two of these if you give me one of those.’”

Schappert also said the district has so far spent a total of $35,159 on legal fees associated with the negotiation process, which began when the DEA’s current contract ran out at the end of June 2012. Of that money, $481.57 went to pay for a financial report from a state-appointed fact-finder last spring. The fact-finder’s report suggested a series of raises for the DEA’s 187 members. The board rejected the report as financially unfeasible.

McDade and DEA president Dave Fortunato said the salary increases requested by Danville’s teachers have regularly come in below the fact-finder’s recommendations.

When the school board publicly revealed its most recent proposal in March, the DEA filed an unfair labor charge against them for negotiating in public. The state labor board dismissed those charges last week.

 Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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