Butler County Community College faculty, college approve six-year pact

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A new six-year contract between Butler County Community College and its faculty is being characterized as a document that lends "stability" to the institution and the community that supports it.

The labor agreement, which follows about 18 months of negotiations and almost a year without a contract, calls for salary increases but also boosts family health care contributions from about 2.1 percent to about 10 percent of an employee's pay beginning this fiscal year.

"I think it is absolutely a fair contract for the stakeholders and players involved," said BCCC president Nick Neupauer. He called particular attention to the language that requires for greater contributions to health care, both in terms of how that impacts the school's finances and its standing in the county community. "It's important externally," Mr. Neupauer said.

The college, which receives significant financial support (about $4.6 million this year) from Butler County tax coffers, has been scrutinized -- and sometimes criticized -- in recent years for its financial management policies, though the college operates in the black and carries a fund balance.

Mr. Neupauer said the lengthy term of the contract "certainly adds stability through our next Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation," one of the college's key assessments.

Human resources director Linda Dodd outlined some of the key features of the agreement that covers 70 full-time and 44 regular part-time faculty who are members of the Butler Community College Education Association, part of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and National Education Association.

Health care contributions toward premiums will increase from 2.13 percent to 10 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year (beginning July 1) for family coverage; coinsurance is being implemented in the first year, calling for $250 for individuals and $500 for family coverage; in the second year, a deductible of $250 for individuals and $500 for families is beginning; and, in 2016-17, the deductible increases from $250 to $400 for individuals and from $500 to $800 for families, and the prescription drug copay will be $25.

Meantime, the raise structure is as follows: Though there is a freeze in salary increases for the 2012-13 fiscal year (which ends on June 30, 2013,) there are two increases in the second fiscal year of the agreement: There will be a flat payment of $2,000 to each employee's base salary, plus a 2.75 percent raise, plus a $675 increase to base salary and a 1.75 percent raise, all to be effective July 1, 2013; a 3 percent raise in the third year; a 2.75 percent raise in the fourth year; a 3 percent raise in the fifth year; and a 3 percent raise in the sixth year.

Ms. Dodd said the structure of the raises that call for double payments and salary boosts on July 1 were the recommendation of mediation and fact-finding.

The last contract was a five-year agreement that expired on June 30, 2012. This agreement expires on June 30, 2018, but it contains an "opt-out" clause that allows either party to cancel the contract in either of the final two years with notification. Ms. Dodd said the clause protects the college from unexpected increases in health care costs.

Negotiations began in fall 2011. Ms. Dodd said the board of trustees gave the agreement unanimous approval April 17, a day after the union voted "overwhelmingly" in favor.

No other labor talks are pending with any other college union.

education - neigh_north

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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