The 2012-2013 Bargaining Season Has Just Begun - What is Really Happening in Pennsylvania Teachers' Contract Negotiations?

According to Pennsylvania law, as of January 11, 2012, 160 out of the 500 school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania commenced negotiations. However, a very different phenomenon is emerging in teachers’ contract negotiations.

According to statistics from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association as of January 29, 2012, of the 152 school districts that started negotiating in January 2010, 14 are still not settled. This represents approximately 9.2% of the school districts that were negotiating.

More dramatically, of the 129 school districts that started negotiating in January 2011, 50 are still negotiating or approximately 38.8% of those school districts.

At the same time, the number of strikes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for teachers has plummeted. The only strike as of late was the strike of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, which commenced on January 9, 2012, and ended on January 19, 2012, after almost four years of negotiations, with no settlement in sight. Indeed, during the Neshaminy work stoppage, the school board directed its chief negotiator not to meet with the union during the course of a work stoppage, a situation that would be rarely tolerated by the community in most work stoppages.

Why is this happening? What is really going on? For those individuals who are in the “field,” the reasons are fairly clear:

  • Since the commencement of the Great Recession in 2008, the financial viability of most school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been challenged. Dramatically increasing retirement costs (PSERS), shrinking tax bases because of assessment appeals, decreased earned income, little or no transfer tax, the essential stopping of development in most school districts, and an ever shrinking Act 1 index that caps the amount a school district can raise taxes has caused a situation of unprecedented concern on the part of school administrators and school board members.
  •  Even in school districts that have amassed significant unreserved fund balances, if you plot out the projections of new Act 1 money against expected school district costs in the near future, including the dramatic PSERS spike, the five year forecast for most school districts is bleak.
  • The signs are all around us. The recent inability of the Chester Upland School District to pay its bills, including its wage obligations to its professional and non-professional staff, is a harbinger of things to come. School districts such as Reading, Allentown, York City, Harrisburg, and the like are not far behind. The State Legislature will need to grapple with the consequence that a number of school districts may become insolvent in the very near future.
  • With little or no help expected from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which is also dealing with its own financial crisis, school districts are left to attempt to control costs to the extent possible. Obviously, labor costs represent a majority of the costs of a school entity in Pennsylvania and when school districts come to the bargaining table to address these issues, there is a desire to obviously “right” the situation that has taken four decades to create since the advent of Act 195. All of that is “well-motivated” but thwarted by unions that have continued expectations of its bargaining unit members and the protection of what is known as “status quo.”
  • Unlike any other kind of contract, labor contracts do not terminate as of their expiration date. Employers covered by a collective bargaining agreement are required to maintain the “status quo” with respect to compensation and benefits until such time as a new contract is negotiated or until a work stoppage, whichever comes first. In case a school district violates its obligation to maintain the “status quo,” the school district faces not only an unfair labor practice being issued by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, but also the Unemployment Compensation Board deeming the situation of being a “lockout” where striking teachers would be entitled to receive potentially millions of dollars in unemployment compensation as the result of what might be a minor change in compensation and benefits.
  • Complicating this situation is the fact that school districts are facing escalating health benefit costs that far exceed the Act 1 index (the trend in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is ranging anywhere from 8-12% per year), which a school district needs to absorb during the status quo time period, as well as continuing tuition reimbursement claims made by bargaining unit members.
  • Though it is true that a school district does not need to advance teachers for longevity increases on their salary schedule or grant them educational attainment dollars, still the additional costs do weigh upon a school district in this “status quo” time period.
  • In addition, during the period of when a contract expires, teachers can engage in “work to rule” where they only provide services that are literal to the contract and/or other binding policies of a school district. In many school districts that have expired contracts, teachers do not post things on bulletin boards, volunteer for extra duty contracts, participate in overnight field trips for elementary students, and the like. This has created a situation where no one seems to have an incentive to settle. On the one hand, the teachers do not want to settle a contract where they are contributing more toward healthcare when they are getting little or no wage increase. Making concessions in areas where they do not need to make concessions, since they are continued in status quo, does not make sense for most unions unless they are facing substantial pressure from their lower paid teachers to settle a contract because they are not getting step movement or educational attainment movement.
  • On the other hand, it is often easier for school boards to tell their community that they are continuing to fight and negotiate a contract than to enter into a contract that gives certain benefits or compensation increases to its teachers in return for some other concessions.
  • Over time, unless there is a substantive change in economic conditions or legislative change, the apparent trend that is now being created is that contracts are taking longer to negotiate.

What is the solution? The State Legislature needs to address this issue. The best way to address this issue is to grant school districts the same rights that a private employer has under the National Labor Relations Act, namely, the right to implement the school district’s last best offer and bring closure to the negotiations process once impasse is achieved. The current system where there is no incentive on either party to settle a contract, even in situations where the school district and/or the teachers’ union cannot necessarily live well under status quo, cannot continue for the foreseeable future.

Right to choose arbitration also gives right to appeal it

According to the Pennsylvania courts, where a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) allows a union to decide whether to arbitrate a grievance, the decision whether to appeal that arbitrator's determination is included even when the CBA is silent.  This is not new law, but was reinforced in a decision from the PA Commonwealth Court yesterday.  There, the court specifically said that:

the exclusive power to initiate arbitration includes the exclusive power to decide whether to appeal an arbitration award.

This is the case even when the CBA gives an employee the right to pick his or her own attorney and to prosecute the grievance on his or her own.

The case is Ray v. Brookville Area School District, 842 CD 2010 and can be found here.

The Pros and Cons of Early Bird Contracts

As the difficulty of negotiating contracts with teachers’ unions in elementary and secondary schools increases because of the overall economic conditions, many school entities believe that entering into an “early bird” contract negotiation will ultimately simplify the process and achieve the requested results in a much more expeditious and efficient manner. Though this is true in a number of circumstances, in many situations, the pursuit of an early bird contract can be fraught with problems for a school entity.

The obvious “pros” of entering into an early bird negotiation are as follows:

·                    An early bird contract gets the job of negotiating a labor contract done without expending a large amount of time, effort, and monetary and non-monetary resources in achieving the objective.

·                    It causes the school entity to focus early on its principal objectives in the process and eliminates a lot of discussion about what ultimately may be extraneous issues.

·                    An early bird contract (achieving a contract result in an expedited manner) can assist a school entity in formulating its budget for the upcoming school year since the teachers’ salaries and benefits are approximately 50% of the school entity’s entire budget.

·                    Entering into an early bird contract also fixes the increases that a school entity may have to expend over the next number of years and makes the predictability of future expenses known to both the school administration and its board.

·                    Entering an early bird contract can also address significant benefits increases expected by a school district earlier versus later, which could mitigate the cost impact of the needed changes far earlier by focusing in on the principal issues in dispute.

There are some obvious “cons” to the early bird process that need to be carefully examined before the parties enter into the process. Those “cons” are:

·                    There needs to be a fundamental trusting relationship between the association and the district. In the absence of that relationship, early birds generally do not work and could cause some permanent damage to the process.

·                    The parties also cannot have a large number of difficult issues on the table. Both parties need to be prepared to hone down their issues to a manageable amount and work out solutions that would work for both sides in the process.

·                    Often, the early bird process does not result in the best deal for either side (particularly, management). This is because of what I call the “early bird” effect. The “early bird” effect is the situation where individuals on both bargaining teams fold their hands and say “well, if we hold out a little bit longer or if we take the negotiations to the ‘brink,’ we will be able to get more.” This effect causes both sides to end up with a result that may not be as good as if the negotiations actually do go the “brink.”

·                    An attenuated negotiations process certainly reduces predictability in budgeting and also may force the school entity to go into a status quo position following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement where it increases the possibility that the union can declare a status quo breach, raise the possibility of a lockout and unemployment compensation, and stultify educational innovation for the district while the negotiations go on.

·                    In the event the early bird process were to fail, a serious problem results. Through the early bird process, both sides “show their cards.” If it becomes apparent that the “cards” are too far apart, it makes negotiating following an early bird very difficult. There is a substantial risk following a failed early bird of negotiations breaking down very quickly and the likelihood of a potential work stoppage increases dramatically.

·                    In an Act 1 of 2006 environment in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (as well as in other states) where school entities are limited in what they can put on the bargaining table during the negotiations process, the likelihood of getting to an early bird where both sides get something in the process is severely limited. Unions like to go to an early bird process because it decreases the likelihood of public exposure to what is contained in their collective bargaining agreement and will often force a school entity to come up with more dollars than they would otherwise do if they do a lengthy study of the collective bargaining agreement.

·                    An early bird also does not address multiple issues and language problems that may have resulted over years of collective bargaining. The focus is usually on the issues of salary, benefits, and time. The early bird process avoids some language changes, many of which may be very important to the school entity.

On balance, I believe that unless a school entity has an extremely good working relationship with its union and unless a school entity is prepared to spend a few more dollars than it otherwise would have to spend in conventional negotiations and limits its issues significantly, the process, particularly in the current economy, is a problematic one.

School entities should go into an early bird process with their eyes wide open recognizing both the positives and negatives of the process.

A Mandatory Exercise for Pennsylvania School Districts Commencing Bargaining with Their Teachers' Unions

By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group, Fox Rothschild LLP

Those Pennsylvania school districts that have aid ratios of less than .4 (the wealthier school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) are looking at historically low Act 1 indices for the next few years. Indeed, districts that have aid ratios in excess of .4 are also facing historically low numbers.

For the 2010-2011 school year, the base Act 1 index is 2.9%. For 2011-2012, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials has opined that based upon the statewide average weekly wage and the employment cost index that one should expect an Act 1 index of 1.4%.

Putting aside the PSERS crisis that our State Legislature has yet to satisfactorily address, districts that are currently engaged in negotiations or soon to engage in negotiations should perform some relatively easy calculations to determine the amount of available dollars that can be spent on collectively bargained contracts.

Salary and healthcare benefit packages are not subject to any exception under Act 1. Because healthcare benefits have consistently exceeded the Act 1 index levels (as well as current CPI numbers that are hovering at the 1.2% level), districts that enter into collective bargaining agreements that substantively exceed their applicable Act 1 index will find themselves over time eating into their available fund balances, to the extent they exist.

A district should calculate the amount of dollars that a 2.9% Act 1 index would generate for the 2010-2011 school year and how much a 1.4% increase would generate for the 2011-2012 school year. If you are considering a collective bargaining agreement that extends beyond that, expect a low Act 1 index of the 1.4%-1.5% range for the next one or two years because of the lagging statistical data the comprises the Act 1 index.

Then take that available number and reduce it by about 50%. In most districts, the salary and benefits on your teachers’ contract represent approximately 50% of the tax effort/budget of the district. That number should yield the target number that a district should negotiate toward in order to enter into a fiscally prudent contract.

In those districts that I have worked with the Business Office to do this calculation, at least for the first two years of the contract, the index is often not enough to cover salary step movement alone. The numbers are sobering and is indicative of the difficulty that many districts are now having trying to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with their teachers’ union, particularly when the cost of healthcare benefits continues to escalate at sometimes a geometric level.

Teachers’ unions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have not vocalized their understanding of this situation though some PSEA UniServ Representatives and Federation Representatives have acknowledged the significant consequences of the low Act 1 index on the ability of a school district to fund a labor contract.

If the Pennsylvania State Legislature intended the Act 1 of 2006 legislation to make it difficult, if not impossible, for a school district to enter into a multiple year labor contract with its teachers’ union, the Legislature has succeeded without amending Act 195 or Act 88 of 1992.

Unless a school board engages in this exercise, they cannot determine the scope of the difficulty of entering into a multiple year labor contract with its teachers. If a school district does this and does not have substantive financial reserves, they will find themselves over the next few years substantially cutting back on program, furloughing staff, and changing a lot of the “value-added” aspects of their teaching program that originally caused individuals to settle in their school districts.

Going through this exercise will undoubtedly yield profound results in a very difficult time. Things just don’t seem to be getting better.

 

What is the Future of School Districts Given our Current Economic Situation?

By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group, Fox Rothschild LLP

What is the future of school districts given our current economic situation?

Examining Governor Rendell’s proposed budget for the 2010-2011 school year would lead one to conclude that there is a major new focus for more dollars to educational entities. Though it is true that Governor Rendell’s new budget represents a continued commitment on the Governor’s part to increase dollars for education, most of the dollars that are increased are going to districts with higher aid ratios (i.e., districts with less wealth from a market value/personal income perspective). Further, given the track record of Governor Rendell obtaining what he is proposing for education from the State Legislature has not been particularly good, one can only surmise that some of Governor Rendell’s budget proposals were motivated from a partisan perspective to place the State Legislature in a position that it would have to cut back the education proposal of the Governor.

All of this bodes very poorly for school districts in the future. Regardless of a school board’s political party affiliation, for the first time, many school boards are grappling with wanting to offer a fair level of compensation for its professional staff, yet faltering revenues, the prospect of the PSERS’ cataclysm, and the need in many cases of reducing staffing and programs in order to balance the budget. Going to the taxpayers to fund huge increases in pension costs, even though it is an exception to Act 1, is not politically acceptable in an environment where most private sector employees do not receive a defined benefit pension plan and have also seen their pension, to the extent that they even exist anymore, evaporate as the result of the decline in the stock market.

What has the teachers’ union response to this been? If you go to the “special pension pull-out section” on the PSEA website, PSEA points back that in 2001-2003 employers had a respite in making a contribution to the pension system. Though that may be the case, that still does not deal with the underlying problem of the huge PSERS’ pension spike moving forward over the next few years.

The lack of willingness of many union affiliates to recognize what is going on in school entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has become apparent at the bargaining table. Until such time as there is a realistic understanding of what is being face by most school entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are looking at a lengthy period of labor strikes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where contracts will not be settled for a long time. Districts will be living with status quo situations, potential work-to-rule situations, and other labor disputes moving What is the future of school districts given our current economic situation?

Examining Governor Rendell’s proposed budget for the 2010-2011 school year would lead one to conclude that there is a major new focus for more dollars to educational entities. Though it is true that Governor Rendell’s new budget represents a continued commitment on the Governor’s part to increase dollars for education, most of the dollars that are increased are going to districts with higher aid ratios (i.e., districts with less wealth from a market value/personal income perspective). Further, given the track record of Governor Rendell obtaining what he is proposing for education from the State Legislature has not been particularly good, one can only surmise that some of Governor Rendell’s budget proposals were motivated from a partisan perspective to place the State Legislature in a position that it would have to cut back the education proposal of the Governor.

All of this bodes very poorly for school districts in the future. Regardless of a school board’s political party affiliation, for the first time, many school boards are grappling with wanting to offer a fair level of compensation for its professional staff, yet faltering revenues, the prospect of the PSERS’ cataclysm, and the need in many cases of reducing staffing and programs in order to balance the budget. Going to the taxpayers to fund huge increases in pension costs, even though it is an exception to Act 1, is not politically acceptable in an environment where most private sector employees do not receive a defined benefit pension plan and have also seen their pension, to the extent that they even exist anymore, evaporate as the result of the decline in the stock market.
 

What has the teachers’ union response to this been? If you go to the “special pension pull-out section” on the PSEA website, PSEA points back that in 2001-2003 employers had a respite in making a contribution to the pension system. Though that may be the case, that still does not deal with the underlying problem of the huge PSERS’ pension spike moving forward over the next few years.


The lack of willingness of many union affiliates to recognize what is going on in school entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has become apparent at the bargaining table. Until such time as there is a realistic understanding of what is being face by most school entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are looking at a lengthy period of labor strikes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where contracts will not be settled for a long time. Districts will be living with status quo situations, potential work-to-rule situations, and other labor disputes moving down the road.

All of this is unpalatable for those individuals who cherish education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Until we all recognize that the State is bankrupt and our communities are dollars-deprived, the status quo may continue. However, the status quo is no longer good enough since the foundation of our educational system in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently at risk. The individuals who helped build that system, our valued teachers, are not recognizing the warning signs. Unless there is a dramatic shift in what happens at the bargaining table, our future of public education in Pennsylvania is in serious danger.
 

Who is Really Being Hurt by the Great Recession from a School District Perspective?

 

By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group, Fox Rothschild LLP

Who is really being hurt by the Great Recession from a school district perspective?

For those school districts that currently have aid ratios of 0.4 or less (i.e., the wealthiest school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), the real squeeze is currently taking place on districts – and we are only seeing the beginning. The base Act 1 index for 2010-2011 is 2.9%. This represents a 1.2% reduction over what was available in the current budget for those districts that have aid ratios of 0.4 or less. It is fully expected that this index will trend downward over the next few years, since the index is composed of the statewide average weekly wage, as well as the employment cost index for secondary schools, both numbers that have been trending downward.

In this environment, health benefits, which are not an exception to the Act 1 index, still continue to outpace inflation and the index by a substantial degree. According to the Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey prepared by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly worker’s premium contribution over the time period of 1999-2007 for single coverage was $58.00 per month and for family coverage $273.00 per month. According to the same study and over the same time period, the average covered worker contributed 16% for single coverage and 28% for family coverage over the same time period. This has clearly not been the case in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or in collectively bargained contracts.

What is a school district to do? The only way to do this is to negotiate health benefit programs that do not substantially outpace the cost of the index.

Because of a school district’s obligation to maintain the “status quo” at the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement or face an unfair labor practice with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board or an allegation of a lockout before the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, teachers’ unions continue to come to the bargaining table taking the position that unless they get a substantive increase in salary, they would be better off living with the current collective bargaining agreement from a health benefits perspective.

Putting aside efforts both on a statewide and federal perspective to overhaul the health benefits system, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s push for a statewide healthcare plan (that will benefit some districts and hurt many other districts that currently do not provide coverage levels for certain classes of employees), there is already legislation on the books that is causing a substantive increase in the cost of health benefits.

For example, Michelle’s Law prohibits employers from terminating group health plan coverage for seriously ill or injured college students. The coverage must be continued for up to one year. Under the law, group health benefit plans cannot terminate coverage of a dependent child due to a medically necessary leave of absence before the date that is the earlier of: (i) the date that is one year after the first day of the medically necessary leave of absence; or (ii) the date on which such coverage would otherwise terminate under the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage.

Effective July 1, 2009, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed an autism mandate where coverage must be provided for the treatment of autism up to $36,000.00 per benefit period.

In addition, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was signed on October 3, 2008, as part of the emergency economic recovery bill. In addition to the current requirement, the Act known as the Wellstone Act added significant new parity protections under a group health plan including:

·                    Adds protections for substance use disorder benefits on the same basis as the protections for mental health benefits;

·                    Prohibits differences in copays, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket costs for mental health and substance use disorder benefits as are applied to medical/surgical benefits;

·                    Prohibits the use of day or visit limits for mental health and substance use disorder benefits that are more restrictive than treatment limitations applied to medical/surgical benefits; and

·                    Adds new requirements for employers seeking a cost exemption.

All of these pieces of legislation have added new demands on our healthcare dollars that did not exist before that period of time. This is an important issue that all school districts need to address in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 

 

The Growing Need to Address the Pennsylvania School System Funding Shortfall and the PSERS Crisis

By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group, Fox Rothschild LLP

A majority of school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been severely impacted as the result of the Great Recession. Many school districts that have a substantive commercial tax base are experiencing declining real estate tax revenues as the result of declining values and numerous real estate assessment appeals. Districts are also experiencing little or no transfer tax revenue as the result of no real estate exchanges and limited growth; static or eroding earned income tax revenue; no real expansion in the tax base; and a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that is literally “broke” because it had to use stimulus monies to support the basic education subsidy for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Recognizing that the State will be in a precarious situation as the result of using ARRA funds for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, Governor Rendell in his recent budget message created a fund for the purposes of building up the State’s coffers to deal with the funding shortfall that will necessarily take place as the result of the missing ARRA funds for the 2011-2012 tax year.

All of the statistics are coupled with the PSERS’ crisis (Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System). For nearly 100 years, the PSERS has been a stable and secure pension program that provided public school employees with a stable and secure retirement. The PSERS’ program provides for unparalleled retirement security for State public school employees by providing a lifetime guarantee of retirement income based upon an average of the three highest years’ salary of the teacher that would be multiplied by a 2.5% per year service rate times the years of school service times an early retirement factor. The program is in the nature of a defined benefit versus a defined contribution pension plan.

As a result of a 25% increase in benefits that took place in 2001 and legislation prompted to defer school employers’ obligations for making contributions in the 2001-2003 time period as the result of Enron losses in the fund, school districts did indeed benefit from a contribution respite. However, the recent economic cataclysm has created a crisis of unprecedented proportions for school entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Based upon a projected 8.5% rate of return on investments, it is expected that the employer contribution rate will increase as follows from 2008-2009 through 2014-2015:

2008-2009

4.76%

2009-2010

4.78%

2010-2011

8.4%

2011-2012

10.7%

2012-2013

29.55%

2013-2014

32.45%

2014-2015

33.95%

These numbers clearly have the potential of bankrupting every school entity in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Though it is true that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania currently reimburses school districts for one-half of the PSERS’ rate, one has to question how long the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will continue to fund the 50% share given the State’s economic problem.

To date, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Legislature has not effectively addressed this issue. Indeed, one can seriously speculate that the reason that the State has not dealt with this issue is that State legislators are also the beneficiaries of a similar State program.

Unless the PSERS’ issue is successfully addressed, I cannot see how school districts can enter into any longer term arrangements with teachers’ unions given the cataclysm that exists around the corner.

The Rules of Bargaining with Teachers' Unions in Pennsylvania Need to Change in Light of the Recession and the Economic Drivers Impacting School Districts

By: Jeffrey T. Sultanik, Esquire, Chair of the Education Law Group, Fox Rothschild LLP

In every issue of School Business Daily, there are reports of school entities throughout the nation being forced to consider cutbacks of staff and teachers’ unions considering concessionary contracts. This national trend has, in large part, been precipitated by the Great Recession of October 2008, which has challenged school entities and state revenues regardless of the jurisdiction.

Notwithstanding this national trend, teachers’ unions in Pennsylvania seem to be immune and/or insensitive from recognizing the pervasive impact that the economy has had on school entity operations in Pennsylvania, as well as the specific economic drivers that impact school funding in the State.

In Pennsylvania, it has been my premise that the education sector was slow to be impacted by the Great Recession and it very well will take much longer to recover from the Great Recession and the issues that flow from the situation.

Even though the Consumer Price Index for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hovered for a good portion of the 2009 calendar year in the -1% territory, overall salary increases in the Commonwealth for the 2009-2010 school year averaged 4.2% per year or $2,422.00 as an average raise. The highest raise for 2009-2010 was 7.9% in the State or $5,294.00, and the lowest raise was 1.8% or $1,065.00. Though many of these settlements predated the October 2008 inception of the Great Recession, a number of contract settlements continued this trend in a post-October 2008 world.

According to PSEA statistics submitted in an October 2009 Fact Finding in Lehigh County, the following represents the average percentage increase and average dollar increase for the year in question throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

Year

Average Percentage Increase Including Step Movement

Average Dollar Increase

2010-2011

4.1%

$2,434.00

2011-2012

4.1%

$2,553.00

2012-2013

4.1%

$2,600.00

2013-2014

4.3%

$2,763.00

Even though this trend appears to be constant in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of National Affairs, the average percentage increase for collectively bargained contracts (private and public sector nationally) is hovering in the average of 1.6%.1 Something is wrong here and in future blog pieces, we will try to address the reasons for what is going on in bargaining.

Notes:
1 - See Daily Labor Report, February 11, 2010.