District, Drivers Reach Pact In U. Moreland

Posted: September 03, 1998

WILLOW GROVE — The bus drivers' union and Upper Moreland School District officials reached a tentative contract agreement yesterday, averting the possibility of a strike less than a week before school starts.

``I feel confident the school board will OK this agreement,'' said Thomas Doyle, president of Local 2101 of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers, which represents the drivers. ``It's a fair and equitable contract for all involved - our membership, the district, and the people of Upper Moreland.''

Neither Doyle or School Board President Al DerMovsesian would reveal details of the agreement.

``Basically, both sides agreed not to make any comments until they have heard from their negotiating teams of what the situation is,'' DerMovsesian said.

The school board will meet in an executive session tonight to discuss the agreement. Union leaders met with members last night in a meeting originally planned for a strike-authorization vote.

The district employs 60 bus drivers who have been without a contract for 15 months. A strike would have affected 3,238 public-school students as well as the private- and parochial-school students who ride district buses.

The district still faces a possible strike by the teachers' union if a tentative agreement is not reached by Tuesday. Classes are set to resume Wednesday.

Upper Moreland Education Association president Jackie Massari cited the district's stand on health care as one of the most serious differences blocking a contract.

The district's proposal would have teachers pay a percentage of the premium costs in the course of a five-year contract - 8 percent the first year, 9 percent the second year, and 10 percent the remainder of the contract.

``In our last contract we gave back $3,000 to $4,000 of a negotiated salary increase,'' Massari said. ``Part of that was so we could keep our health benefits.''

The old contract called for the formation of a cost-containment committee, which met for the first time last summer and recommended adoption of a plan that would cover medical costs on a pretax basis, she said.

No future negotiations have been scheduled.

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