VT Teachers & School Board Reps Headed To Fact Finding On Health Care

July 16, 2021

VTDigger reports this week that the Vermont National Education Association  (VTNEA) and Vermont School Board representatives are heading to fact-finding on a successor health care agreement. The two sides attempted mediation but could not reach an agreement, so fact-finding is the next step in the process  (a fact VSEA members, unfortunately, know all too well) Right now, the two sides are pretty far apart.

From the story:

Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a former South Burlington school board member who is leading negotiations on the employer side, said the two parties began negotiations close to $50 million apart. The union’s initial proposal would have cost school districts roughly $18 million extra more than the status quo, she said. School boards, meanwhile, entered into talks with an offer that would see employees collectively pay about $30 million more than they do now. 


“After the most difficult school year that anybody can possibly remember, coming out of a pandemic — it’s just really disappointing that they are trying to limit access to health care and make it more expensive for public school employees,” [VTNEA Lead Negotiator Will Adams said.

A key point of contention is the Vermont-NEA’s proposal to implement income-sensitized premium cost-sharing, a longtime practice in many local contracts, as a statewide standard. 

The union would like all employees making less than $35,000 to pay no more than 12% of the premium. Those making more than $35,000 but less than $70,000 would pay no more than 16%, and the highest earners would pay 18%. 

The school boards have pitched a proposal that would see all licensed staff — mostly teachers — increase their contributions 2% over the life of the contract. Currently they pay 20%.

Support staff, meanwhile, whose contribution levels currently vary, would gradually get to an 80/20 cost split by the end of 2025. The employer side also wants workers to take on an additional 1% contribution if premiums go up by more than 10%.

Note: A single statewide contract has governed health insurance for all Vermont school employees since the start of 2021, and that two-year deal expires at the end of 2022.