West Chester School Board President Vince Murphy said he remains optimistic as the teachers’ union and the school board head into another round of negotiations on Thursday, Nov. 29.
“As we look ahead toward Thursday night’s negotiation session, it is our sincere hope that the information gleaned from the informational session will enable the WCEA to move forward with a negotiation session that is focused and productive,” Murphy said in a statement read at Monday’s school board meeting.
In early November, the school board and the union held a jointly prepared session that was intended to educate staff on proposed changes to the teachers’ healthcare plan.
Murphy said, “The format of the meeting offered an informal and interactive setting for receiving much-needed clarity about the important topic of coverage, costs, flexibility and the need to consider less costly health benefit plans.”
Murphy added the school board received a revised healthcare proposal from the union on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that “represented a complete retrenchment from its [the union’s] previous position.”
The union submitted a new proposal on Monday that has yet to be reviewed.
Union president Debbie Fell said she found Murphy’s public comments disappointing.
“We need to put aside our differences and work together,” Fell said. “As someone so articulately put it last month: ‘two monologues do not make a dialogue.’”
Fell added that the school board has not budged from its original proposal from 11 months ago, but the union has come down $19 million in what it is asking from the district.
“The board has not moved one inch,” Fell said. “The board needs to negotiate and not dictate.”