ANWSD support workers ink new, two-year contract
VERGENNES — The Addison Northwest Support Staff Association (ANSSA) and the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) board have agreed on a new, two-year pact that includes annual pay increases and requires support staff in the Vergennes-area schools to pay more for their health insurance.
But the ANSWD school board has not seen the last of the bargaining table this year. Board negotiators were scheduled to meet their Addison Northwest Teachers’ Association (ANTA) counterparts on Thursday, Aug. 31, to try to hammer out a new contract for district teachers.
The new support staff agreement covers roughly 100 Addison Northwest workers. It grants those employees a $1.35-per-hour raise during the current academic year (2017-2018) and another 75-cents-per-hour bump during 2018-2019, according to a press release signed by George Gardner, chief negotiator for ANWSD, and Jackie Russet, chief negotiator for ANSSA.
A portion of these raises compensate staff members for their increased share of health care premiums, which now align with the state’s new mandate of an 80/20 split between the school district and its employees, according to Gardner and Russet. The state now requires school employees to pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.
The board will also provide staff members with a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) to help offset health care deductibles. An HRA account is funded entirely by the employer. The employer contributes a specified amount to each participant’s HRA each year. As long as there is money in the employee’s account, he or she can use the funds toward eligible HRA expenses.
“It seems like people are satisfied that this was fair,” ANWSD negotiator Mark Koenig said of the support staff pact, which is retroactive to June 30, the date on which the former contract expired.
June 30 was also the day on which the most recent Addison Northwest teachers’ contract expired. Negotiators have been meeting off and on since last September in an effort to strike a new accord. Both sides recently agreed to bring in a mediator after declaring impasse this past April.
The areas of disagreement have primarily involved health insurance, wages, length of school day and professional development.
Thursday’s bargaining session will be the first between the two sides since the Vermont Legislature mandated an 80-20 split in premium contributions by school boards and teachers, respectively.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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