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Union approves health-care plan change

Teacher's aides and clerical workers in the Williamsville School District will change to a single health-care provider in less than two years, making their union the first in the district to agree to such a change.

Union members this week voted, 328-21, to approve a contract that will make Independent Health their provider as of Jan. 1, 2006. They also agreed to the company's Encompass C, a less-expensive plan than is currently offered as one of their options, which features higher co-pays and deductibles.

Patricia A. Snitzer, president of the Williamsville Association of Education Related Personnel, said her members understand that such a change may be inevitable.

"Many of my people see what's going on throughout the area and throughout the country," she said. "It's just a matter of resignation, that this is just what it's going to be."

The move to a single provider, along with a less-expensive plan, will save the district about $168,000 a year, according to Ralph E. Smith, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Members of the Williamsville Association of Education Related Personnel also will begin contributing 2.5 percent toward their premiums, beginning July 1, 2007, bringing the district an annual savings of about $35,000 a year, Smith said. The change will cost an employee receiving family coverage about $200 a year, he estimated.

The School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved the five-year contract, which is retroactive to July 1, 2004, when the previous contract expired.

The agreement also includes a 4 percent raise each of the first two years and 3.75 percent raises the next three years. The starting salary for a full-time teacher's aide working 10 months will be about $20,460 by 2009. For a senior account clerk stenographer, the starting salary will be about $31,285.

e-mail: mpasciak@buffnews.com

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