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Oxbow High School -
Waits River Valley School -
Thetford Elementary School - Oct 20
Newbury Elementary School -
Riverbend Career and Technical Center -
Bradford Elementary School -
For Immediate Release
October 8, 2014
Teacher Negotiations Reach Impasse over
Health Care and Salaries
The Boards and Teacher Negotiating Councils for OESU worked with mediator Ira Lobel for five hours on Tuesday evening, October 7, but failed to come to agreement on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement for teachers employed by the Newbury and Bradford Elementary Schools, Oxbow High School/River Bend Career and Technical Center, and the Orange East Supervisory Union (OESU). The issues at the forefront of the negotiations are salary and health insurance. The complicating factor in these negotiations is the fact that, by virtue of law, teachers at Newbury Elementary School (NES) and Bradford Elementary School (BES) will not be permitted to purchase health insurance from the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI), a non-profit run by School Boards and Vermont NEA, after December 31, 2014. VEHI currently provides health insurance to nearly all teachers in Vermont. Bradford and Newbury Elementary Schools are among the first Vermont public school districts whose teachers are required to obtain their group health insurance coverage from the Vermont Health Connect (VHC). Moving to VHC introduces a new plan design in comparison to that of the current Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI) plan. For example, the VHC Platinum plan:
Covers more services than the VEHI plans, including pediatric dental and vision care.
Covers all preventive services with no out-of-pocket cost to employees, unlike the VEHI plans, which require co-pays.
Has a larger provider network than VEHI plans.
Features maximum out of pocket costs of $1,250 for a single plan and $2,500 for a 2 person or family plan.
The biggest difference between VEHI and VHC plans is in the way costs are allocated between premiums and out-of-pocket payments.The final offer of the Boards was to peg its contribution to 82% of the cost of the VHC Platinum level health plan. The Board currently pays 82% of the cost of the VEHI Dual Option Plan, and the VHC Platinum Plan is the closest match to the current plan in terms of coverage. Teachers would see slightly lower contributions to the cost of coverage, while the actual cost to the Board would increase slightly due to assessment fees which the Board, like other employers, will be required to pay to the State of Vermont. Teachers could also elect coverage under one of three less expensive plans offered on VHC, and receive the same dollar amount from the Board. The Board proposal was not acceptable to the Association, and the Boards could not agree to Association proposals which would substantially increase health insurance benefits and costs.The parties will now move from mediation to fact finding. The process requires that the Parties appoint a neutral individual to serve as fact finder, and convene a hearing. Depending on a variety of factors, it could take 60 to 90 days, or more, to complete the process. Time is of the essence since teachers employed by the Newbury and Bradford Elementary Schools are no longer eligible to remain in the VEHI insurance plan after December 31, 2014, and coverage under a plan offered by the Vermont Health Exchange is required.
For more information, please contact Steve Simpson, OESU Board Chair, at 802-345-8761