Did Redbank Terminate Striking Teachers’ Health Insurance? It May Be a Matter of Semantics.

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – The Redbank Valley Education Association says the school district has terminated health insurance for teachers but district officials tell a different story.

(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)

On October 1, the Redbank Valley Education Association (RVEA) issued the following Facebook post stating the district terminated all health insurance for Redbank teachers:

“The Redbank Valley School District Board of Directors has chosen to terminate the health insurance today, October 1, of all your Redbank Valley teachers. This decision not only affects the teachers but also their families, including many young children that attend the Redbank Valley schools. Regardless of how you feel about the strike, we can all agree (that) eliminating health insurance for children is uncalled for. This is not a common practice for school boards when their teachers are on strike and was a shocking decision, especially during a worldwide pandemic. We can guarantee that each school day missed due to this work stoppage will be made up. What we cannot guarantee is the health and well-being of our teachers and their families whose health insurance has been taken away. Please continue to contact your school board members. Thank you for your support.”

The union’s statement was contradicted by Chad Shaffer, a Redbank Valley School Board member.

In an email to exploreClarion.com, Shaffer indicated insurance had not been terminated, stating instead what happened was the transferring of responsibility for the cost of insurance premiums from the district to the teachers.

Shaffer’s response to exploreClarion.com included the following:

“(It) is standard practice to transfer the expense of monthly health insurance premiums from the employer to the employee during a strike, and the District moved forward with doing so. District teachers are able to maintain their health insurance coverage by paying for a COBRA plan within sixty days, and to pay for it, they may use their health savings accounts, which the District contributed 55% of the funds to this year.”

Today, Monday, October 4, is Day 21 of the teachers’ strike, which began after the district had only completed 11 days of instruction.

IMG_1818

Teachers at Redbank have been without a contract since June of 2019.

Last week, after failing to reach an agreement during multiple negotiating sessions, the RVEA requested voluntary arbitration for negotiations.

This request was ultimately denied by the district, and now the strike seems likely to last until October 19, after which, according to state law, both parties must submit to mandated arbitration from the state.

If both parties enter into arbitration, then the strike must end, according to state law.

The RVEA has the ability to strike once more during the school year; however, state law mandates 180 days of school be completed before June 30.

If the strike would prevent that from happening, the State Education Secretary has the power to initiate injunction proceedings against the RVEA.

RELATED:

What’s Next for the Redbank Valley Strike?

Redbank School Board: No Action On Strike Until Next Week

Redbank Negotiations: Parties Fail to Reach Agreement

Redbank Valley Football Team Trying to Make Most of Teacher’s Strike in District

Letter to the Editor: Redbank Valley School Board Negotiations Committee Issues Release on Ongoing Contract Negotiations

Redbank Teacher’s Union Rejects District’s ‘Best and Final Offer’

PDE Sets Nov. 3 Deadline for Redbank Teacher’s Strike

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

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

Redbank Valley Teacher’s on Strike

Redbank Teachers to Strike on Monday


Copyright © 2021 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Comments are temporarily closed. A new and improved comments section will be added soon.