Monday, August 25, 2008

Going nowhere at 100 mph

According to this morning’s Courier Times article, teacher union President Louise Boyd said that “things are really moving slowly” with respect to ongoing contract negotiations. She further claims that the district is “limiting” substantive face-to-face meetings.

On the other hand, board member and negotiating team spokesperson Ritchie Webb points out that the board has met with the teachers 10 times since January and another meeting is scheduled for September 3rd.

You can read the complete article by clicking here.


billdit1 said...

Is the board really trying to negotiate or are they just stalling to force the teachers hand?

LivininLevittown said...

Funny, I have a similar question. Are the teachers really trying to negotiate or are they stalling to avoid paying for benefits?

IrishFarm said...

I don't think anybody is stalling. It's just what Richie Webb said in the paper. These things start off slow but pick up steam as negotiations drag on. What I didn't like is union president Louise Boyd saying the district was withholding information about healthcare. Let's face it, the union has everything to lose with this contract so they're the ones who are more likely to take their time in negotiating. From a teacher's perspective, it's better for them to work under the existing contract. They may not get an annual increase, but the free healthcare and retirement benefits are worth much more. Why would they be in a rush to negotiate? The district/school board doesn't have any leverage in this situation, do they?

sportsfan said...

I can see both sides of it. As in sports, the ticket prices are high but the players are really good. That has been proven by the high test scores.

KClarinet said...

The Courier report seems pretty balanced. My only real complaint is that it contains too much "information."

Collective bargaining is just that - bargaining. Neither side in the negotiation expects to end up with everything they ask for at the beginning of the process, so neither of the overall positions described in the article is what anyone at the bargaining table expects as a final outcome.

Then, the figures about "average salary" and "average starting salary" are so dependent on the details that go into the calculations as to be almost meaningless. For example, Ms. Canelli mentions (correctly) that the average salary will go down this year all by itself (for reasons she explains). Average starting salary, too, is heavily dependent on whom the district hires to fill open positions. A new teacher just out of college with no teaching experience enters at a substantially lower salary than a teacher who has taught elsewhere for 5 or 10 years, yet both slaaries are "starting" and figure into the average.

KClarinet said...

To irishfarm, the leverage on both sides of the table is fairly balanced. The only real leverage workers have in a contract negotiation is the threat to withhold services - to strike. But in Pennsylvania teachers' strikes are largely meaningless. Teachers can go out, but they can only do so within strict limits. However arcane the wording of those limits may be, the net effect is to ensure that teachers will provide the 180 days of instruction mandated by state law. A "strike" may inconvenience many people and generally does a lot to harden positions and inflame public opinion, but it cannot effectively cost instructional time.