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New accounting standards threaten bargaining.

New accounting standards for retiree health benefits developed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) threaten to change bargaining dynamics and employee-employer relationships. Under the new standards, government agencies and school districts will be asked to report the value of retiree health care benefits promised to active and retired workers. "When the reports are issued, expect sticker shock and knee-jerk attempts to slash benefits or change current workers" and retirees" economic packages," cautions a report from NEA Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy (NEA CB/MA). For example, some districts might suggest the new standards will force them to divert money from education budgets to pre-fund benefits.

Locals in Alabama, California, Delaware, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Utah are already grappling with the new standards, which are being phased in. Courtney White, director of research bargaining and legislative services with the Utah Education Association, says Associations can help school officials understand that the standards don't require pre-funding. "You don't have to come up with all the money up front," says White. While GASB--a nonprofit that sets accounting standards for state and local governments, school districts, and other public entities--does not have legal authority, some states mandate compliance, and the accounting profession views the standards as the baseline for proper accounting. NEA CB/MA has produced materials to help Association leaders manage the changes. Visit for details.

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Title Annotation:RETIREMENT BENEFITS; Governmental Accounting Standards Board's standards
Publication:NEA Today
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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