Fact finding results released
JCDEA and administration receive recommendations

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

Results of the fact finding regarding the collective bargaining process between the Jac-Cen-Del Community School Corporation and the Jac-Cen-Del Educators Association, JCDEA, were released on Friday, February 13. In this report, James Dworkin, fact finder for the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB), gave his recommendations for matters such as salary, retirement contributions, and health insurance, in which both parties were at an impasse.

Dworkin was appointed as fact finder for a hearing held on November 25, 2008. At this hearing, the JCDEA and the board were given the opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues still in dispute during the contract bargaining process. Bargaining for the new contract began in January 2008. After unable to come to an agreement, mediation sessions were held in February and July of the same year and did not lead to a settlement.

“Both parties have some pretty good arguments, with regard to salary increase,” Dworkin said in his report. The association requested a 3.15% increase for 2007-2008 with the board offering a 1 5/8% increase.
According to the association, JCD beginning salary, for those with a Masters Degree, and career earning all rank last compared to area schools. The board points out that due to the decline in enrollment, a loss of 44 students in the 2008-2009 school year alone, support from the state was reduced. It was also noted that due to the uncertain financial future, the corporation wanted to be conservative with their funding.

Dworkin found the position of both parties to be extreme. The association’s proposal of 3.15% was too high and that the JCD School Corporation cannot afford such an increase. He believes that the board’s proposal can be improved upon, and therefore recommended that the parties agree on a 2% increase in salaries.

The association requested a 2.5% increase in salary for driver’s education teachers, while the board proposed 1 5/8%. After reviewing the evidence presented, Dworkin believed that the association did not offer a valid explanation for the high increase. His recommendation was for the 1 5/8% increase proposed by the board.
Health insurance, according to the report, is “perhaps the most difficult of all the issues dividing the parties.” The question is, with health care costs continuing to increase, who is going to pay for them?

Currently, the corporation pays $363 a month for a single plan, and $680 a month for the family health plan. The board proposed to maintain the current contribution levels, while the association requested to have the single plan increased to $418 per month and the family plan increased to $788 per month.

The association pointed out that insurance premiums increased by 10% in January 2009. According to the association, teachers have been forced to pay all of the increased costs.

JCD School Corporation is part of a health insurance consortium. According to evidence presented by the association at the November hearing, the average single plan premium for members of the consortium is $6,390, with the JCD plan costing $7,284. The average family plan for consortium members is $17,284, with the JCD plan premium being $18,924.

The association also noted that board payment in the consortium to be an average of $5,089 for the single plan and $10,348 for the family plan. The JCD board, according to the association, pays $4,356 for the single plan and $8,160 for the family plan. It is the association’s stance that a teacher taking family coverage in 2008 will incur an additional amount of $1,800, the entire amount of the premium increase.

The board has encouraged the teachers to move away from the most expensive plan option in favor of the lower cost options. Although Dworkin finds the association’s proposal too high, he believes some increase in the premium paid is warranted. He recommends that the corporation pay $388 monthly for the single plan and $725 for the family health insurance plan, effective as soon as the new master contract is signed.

The association also requested an increase in the corporation contribution to the 401(a) plans. Currently, the contract requires the corporation to contribute 1% of the teacher’s salary into the account. The association wants the contribution rate to be 1.25%, while the board has proposed to maintain the current rate.

According to Dworkin's report, the association rationale for this demand is that an increase to the 401 (a) plan, and that the retirement savings plan contribution be maintained at the current 1%. “The extra money is best spent on all teachers instead of just the younger ones,” he said.

Other recommendations made by Dworkin included the contract extended to three years and a three year phase in for gender equity at an increase of 1 5/8% for 2007-2008, and the same amount in 2008-2009 and 2009-10.

The IEERB was established by statute in 1973 to promote relationships between public school teachers and their respective school corporations.