Health-care consortium membership won’t solve Neshaminy school labor dispute

    Teachers in the Neshaminy School District have opted to join in a growing health-care consortium for schools in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

    The school board said that does not mean a contract impasse in the district will break.

    The fledgling consortium hopes to cut administrative costs and capitalize on group buying power to save money on health-insurance plans.

    Jeff Dunkley, vice president of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, said the union joined because its members expect to pay a portion of their health-care premiums for the first time whenever a long-delayed labor contract goes through.

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    “If we can help the district realize a level of savings by voluntarily entering into this health-care consortium,” Dunkley said, “it should be a win-win for both parties.”

    Neshaminy school board president Richie Webb said the potential savings from entering into the plan is nowhere near the amount the board has been trying to achieve in contract negotiations with the teachers union.

    “At the moment it will have no direct impact upon our negotiations,” Webb said. “But we certainly are hopeful that it will take our costs down, because our current budget is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of about a $14 million deficit.”

    Contentious labor negotiations have left teachers at Neshaminy working without a contract for nearly four years.

    Current health plans, with the district picking up 100 percent of premium costs for teachers, will not change until a new contract is signed.

    The consortium could help shape health coverage down the road.

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