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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms often used during contract negotiations

Act 1  – this is not a bargaining term but it is part of the discussion. It is a state law that limits school districts to real estate tax increases not more than the Educational Cost Index (ECI) which is like a cost of living index for education. It is published by the state each year. This year, Chartiers Valleys Act 1 index is about 4%, which means a district may raise real estate taxes by no more than 4% of the millage it has in place. It has ranged from 2% to its current level over the past several years. Districts have the option of going to a referendum to seek funding beyond the index.

Good Faith - The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act (Act 195) imposes the obligation to bargain in good faith. This has generally been defined as a willingness to work toward an agreement which includes providing accurate information upon request, willingness to meet at reasonable times and places, consideration of proposals, and the presentation of counterposes and responses. It does not require agreement and “no” is a permissible response.

Increment – this is the increase in salary a teacher receives going from one step to another as they work year after year. It is also known as step increase.

Jump step – this is the amount of money paid generally between the next to last step in the scale and the top step. At CV and many districts, it is quite large, to enable teachers to reach higher career earnings. At CV the amounts between 16-17 and 17-18 are both jump steps.

Money at the top – this means the amount of increase provided to those teachers who have reached the top of the scale and do not move on the scale.

On scale – this means the amount of money the district adds to each step as the contract is bargained. So if a teacher at step one is paid $50,000 and when the teacher moves to step 2 the next year the scale provides the salary is $51,000. If the parties agree to put $500 on the scale, each step is raised $500 and, in the example here, step 2 would become $51,500.

Premium share – this is the amount paid by each employee toward the premium cost of health insurance. It can be expressed in a flat dollar amount, a percentage of salary (currently the method at CV), or a percentage of premium with or without a “cap” or limit. It is often erroneously referred to as co-pay or co-share.

Retirement Incentive or ERIP (early retirement incentive program) – this is the amount offered to teachers who retire through PSERS(the state public school employee retirement system). It is designed to motivate teachers to retire earlier than they may normally retire. The district can then replace them with new teachers with savings on salary.

Salary scale – this is a grid that is numbered from one to whatever the top step, say 18. The salaries are listed for each year and there are columns or “lanes” for various educational levels, bachelor's degree, master's degree, master's plus 30 credits or other number of credits and doctoral degree as applicable. Generally, each lane provides for a higher salary as degrees are earned.

Sidebar–This term comes from the practice in court of the judge speaking with lawyers out of the hearing of the jury—hence the term “sidebar.” The judge and lawyers move to the side of the court away from the jury. In the context of negotiations, sidebar is a process where the negotiators discuss and present proposals unofficially to attempt to reach common ground. If no agreement is reached, these proposals are not “official" proposals and the parties are not bound by them. If proposals are presented at the table officially and if a party withdraws the proposal or presents a less attractive official proposal, that can be deemed “bad faith.”