Redbank Negotiators Respond to Striking Teachers: ‘Both Sides Wish It Could Have Been Avoided’

| September 15, 2021

IMG_1815NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – Dr. Chad Shaffer, a member of the Redbank Valley School Board and the lead negotiator for the district responded to a request for comment from exploreClarion.com regarding the teacher’s strike in the district.

Dr. Shaffer said the district negotiators were willing to meet with the union on Sunday, September 12, without a formal proposal to present; however, the union turned down their invitation.

“We were informed the union was not willing to meet,” explained Shaffer, who said the district needed time to run the numbers for their proposal, which they are preparing to submit to the union next week.

Shaffer said the district was never going to have a proposal ready before September 17, a fact he says the union was well aware of since they were informed at an August 30 meeting and a September 8 meeting between the two sides.

According to Shaffer, the district and union have agreed to a gradual implementation of co-pays, though a higher salary, which the union has asked for, remains elusive.

“The salary the union asked for is more than the district can do and more than tax increases could pay for,” explained Shaffer. “There’s a limit to how much the school district can raise the salaries. Last year, we made some large cuts for a balanced budget. We don’t want to let that go.”

In previous comments to exploreClarion.com, a representative from the Redbank Valley Education Association said their proposal would save the district $1.2 million over the life of the contract, while the school district is asking for an additional $140,000.00 in savings.

Shaffer claims this is incorrect. He emphasized that the union plan would increase expenses by $900,000.00 from where they currently are.

“There’s no way we can make it up through tax increases,” he argued.

Additionally, Shaffer said the district is willing to look into changing health insurance providers, directly contradicting previous statements by the union representative.

“We’re willing to work together to look for an alternative,” he said. “It’s not a simple task, and it can get complex and expensive. Whether we do that or not depends on the numbers from the exploration.”

The strike is something Shaffer sees as unfortunate, stating, “Both sides wish it could have been avoided.

“Both sides are frustrated we can’t reach an agreement.”

RELATED:

Redbank Teachers’ Union Representative: ‘The ball is in the district’s court now.”

Redbank Valley Teachers on Strike

Redbank Valley Teachers to Strike on Monday


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Category: Local News, Schools, Uncategorized