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The Manatee County School Board’s Health Insurance Proposals Will Hurt the Lowest Paid Employees and Cause Damage to the Plan

May 2, 2011
BRADENTON —The Manatee Education Association (MEA), the union representing teachers and paraprofessionals, rejected a single recommendation made by the assigned Special Magistrate in the negotiations impasse with the School District. Although the union is not opposed to increasing health insurance premiums for the current year, the district’s proposal has some fundamental flaws according to Bruce Proud, the union’s chief negotiator. The District’s proposal increases premiums in the greatest amounts for the plan with the lowest level of coverage. The employees receiving the lowest pay historically have been more likely to choose the low cost HMO plan. If the District’s proposal is implemented many employees will shift to another plan with better benefits, but lower premiums. Others may decide the price is too high and choose not to cover family members. This migration will cause a great deal of disruption for employees and health care providers and cause additional unintended consequences to the plan according to the union negotiators.

Overall, MEA saw the Special Magistrate’s recommendations as fair and acceptable under the current economic conditions. There were a total of fourteen issues addressed by Marsha J. Murphy, the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission appointed fact-finder in this case. MEA had hoped that the recommendations would trigger an opportunity for the district and the union to reach an agreement, but a brief meeting with the district was not successful in moving the parties closer to an agreement.
The health insurance premium issue and the six recommendations rejected by the Superintendent will be presented in Legislative Body hearing before the Manatee County School Board. The six recommendations rejected by the Superintendent and the recommendations made by the Special Magistrate are summarized below:
·         Experience Step Advancement on the Salary Schedule- “I agree with the Association that the step salary structure should be implemented even if negotiations are ongoing.”
·         Terminal Pay – the “Special Magistrate recommends that the parties retain the present language of Article XIII of the CBA.”
·         High School Teachers assigned to six (rather than five) out of seven periods- There is simply no reason why the collective bargaining agreement needs to address this issue at this time. The District should withdraw this proposal.”
·         Paraprofessional Reappointment Date- “Both the paraprofessional CBA and the teacher’s CBA should be modified to state that notification of reappointment must be given by May 15.”
·         Paraprofessional probation and contract status- “The Special Magistrate sees no logic to the District’s argument that it is not fair to teachers if paraprofessionals have a shorter probationary period. The District should withdraw their proposal.”
·         Teacher/Employee Rights- “Many collective bargaining agreements in both the private and public sector are incorporating the requirement to abide by Federal Statutes and State and Federal Constitutions. This brings these statutory claims within the four corners of the agreement and provides that they can be addressed through the grievance procedure by an arbitrator. The Association’s proposal should be accepted.”
The Special Magistrate’s recommendations on all impasse issues are available for review by clicking on the link below.  

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