New Kensington-Arnold teachers union reports ‘setback’ in contract talks
New Kensington-Arnold School District and its teachers union failed to reach an agreement on a new contract during a bargaining session Wednesday night.
The two sides can’t even agree on who was involved in the latest negotiations.
“No school board members attended the scheduled bargaining session,” New Kensington-Arnold Education Association spokesman Phil Cope said in a statement. “This resulted in an unfortunate setback for we were unable to come to an agreement on contract language.”
Superintendent John Pallone told the Tribune-Review on Thursday that Cope’s assessment was “absolutely a fallacy.”
“That’s not true,” Pallone said. “We met with negotiators. We are continuing to make progress.”
Pallone’s brother, Robert Pallone, president of the school board, didn’t return a message seeking comment.
The superintendent refused to say who attended the latest negotiations session.
“We’re not discussing that,” he said.
John Pallone said the district didn’t see any of the teachers union’s leaders and instead dealt with a negotiator from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the larger union representing the teachers.
“They have no idea,” John Pallone said of the union’s statement admonishing the school board.
According to Cope, the teachers had a meeting of rank-and-file members Tuesday in preparation to gauge what the membership would accept in a contract.
He said, “We were really hoping on Wednesday night” that an agreement could be reached.
The teachers have been working without a contract for more than 600 days. Both sides have previously said they’re making progress.
Three other negotiations in April and May, all attended by school board members, were fruitful and there was a tentative agreement on a pay freeze and an increase in health care contributions, Cope said in the statement.
But there’s still no deal.
“We encourage the school board of directors to resume negotiations at the next bargaining session on June 17,” Cope said.
There are 161 teachers and staff represented by the union.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .