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GRANITE CONTRACT TALKS STALL OVER INSURANCE ISSUE

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The state's largest school district has reached an impasse in contract negotiations with teachers, who were to rally Tuesday to protest a proposed benefit cut.

A federal mediator is scheduled to meet Oct. 16 with negotiators for the Granite School District and the Granite Education Association, according to the association president, Allen Rasmussen.The impasse was declared after more than 100 teacher union representatives voted Friday to reject any offer from the district that includes a reduction in insurance benefits, he said.

The latest offer from the district called for a 3.5 percent Tuesday's rally, which was to have started shortly after 4 p.m. outside the school district headquarters at 345 E. 3545 South, was called to emphasize the union's position on the proposed benefit cut.

Paying the $60 annual cost for a spouse's medical insurance or $120 to provide a year's worth of coverage for a spouse and children would eat up too much of the proposed pay increase, Rasmussen said.

The district had boosted the 3 percent pay increase budgeted by the Legislature by 0.5 percent in order to offset charging for family medical insurance, he said.

But for the 1,500 or so Granite teachers who earn less than $24,000 a year, the cost of picking up medical insurance premiums for their families would be more than the 0.5 percent increase.

Rasmussen said teachers know that they will eventually have to start paying for their families' medical insurance. However, he said that should wait until they earn more money so the bite out of their checks won't seem so big.

Granite is not the only school district that has yet to sign a contract for the current school year. Teachers are also working without contracts in the Davis, Morgan, Park City, Millard and San Juan school districts.