Monday night, the Board of Education approved two union contracts covering roughly 50 district employees that Superintendent Jerome Belair said will save the town money over the contracts' length.
At a special meeting Monday, the Waterford Board of Education unanimously approved a three-year contract with the secretaries union, which covers 22 employees, and a four-year contract with the custodians union, which covers just more than 30 employees. While the contracts give annual raises to employees between 1.75 and 2.5 percent, Belair said changes to employees' health insurance plans means the district will save money over the course of the contracts.
“We did a cost analyst, and there is actually a savings at the end of the day,” Belair said. “There is going to be savings in the health, we are going to be offsetting the wage increases with health savings.”
Both contracts retroactively take effect July 1.
“I believe this is a favorable contract for the board,” Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty said.
Both contracts' health insurance plans mirror the health insurance plan , which was approved by the Board of Education last October. That means large increases in co-pays for members of both unions immediately, as co-pays for office visits jump from $5 to $25 and eventually to $30 by the end of the contracts.
The contracts both give raises to employees. Custodians will receive annual raises of 1.75 percent, 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent over four years and the secretaries will receive annual raises of 1.75 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent over three years. Also, health savings accounts will now be offered to members of the unions, Belair said.
Employees in both unions will pay larger percentages of their health insurance as well, with both unions going from 15 percent to 16 percent over the course of the contracts. The contracts also sunset longevity payouts to new employees, according to Assistant Superintendent Craig Powers.
Emergency room co-pays jump from $25 to $75 immediately in both contracts, and eventually climb to $100. These increases in co-pays ensure employees seek medical coverage when appropriate, and seek appropriate medical coverage, Belair said in previous interviews.
For example, increasing the emergency room co-pays to $75 while increasing office visit co-pays only to $25 encourages employees who are sick but don’t require immediate assistance to go to a doctor’s office instead of the emergency room, Belair said in previous interviews. A visit to a doctor’s office is far cheaper for the town than a visit to the emergency room, he said.
In the last fiscal year, Waterford custodians made between $15.27 per hour to $30.71 per hour, depending on their experience; and Waterford’s school secretaries made between $14.07 per hour to $23.66 per hour, depending on their experience.