Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Union rejects latest offer

Update (Feb 18): You can read the Courier Times article on this matter by clicking here.

The School Board today issued a press release stating that the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT) has refused their latest offer which seeks to add teacher contributions to health care benefits in exchange for an average salary increase of 3%.

The press release goes on to say that "For over a year, the NFT has indicated no willingness to agree to any meaningful changes in the current health benefits package. In addition, they continue to propose a salary schedule increase that would lead to average annual raises of more than 6% per year. Taken together, the union’s salary and health benefit proposals would increase District costs by an estimated $5.4 million next year alone."

To read the entire press release along with a summary of the negotiations to date, go to www.neshaminy.org and look under the "Announcements" section to the bottom right of the page, and follow that link to the Board's negotiation website. Then look towards the bottom portion of the page under "Current Information"

Important Note: Although your comments to this post are welcome and encouraged, please keep your statements constructive and civil. Any comments that do not abide by this will not be published.

29 comments:

I must be living in Jersey said...

Guess I'll have to post my nasty comments over at the Courier blog tomorrow :->

This does not look good for the teachers. I understand that they want to protect their contract, but to expect that they should not have to contribute to their benefits is just plain out of touch. I love the teachers but they'll get no support from me on this one. Sorry gang.

JS said...

All I can say is "wow". Never expected such an agressive stance from the Board. I definitely like it.

Now I do have some more questions. Working to the old contract...

I know that the top step is effectively stuck with out a new contract, but are there still annual raises (2.75% I believe?) or movements on the steps below? If this is the case, effectively we as taxpayers are STILL paying for the old contract, health benefits and all.

Other than effectively "locking out" the teachers (which would not do much good for public support), is there anything else the Board can do to get out from under the old contract? Otherwise it makes absolutely no sense for the Union to settle. They'll continue to get a better deal hanging on to this old contract.

If I read all the documentation about the collective bargaining laws I believe the District is effectively behind the 8 ball unless they stop extending the old contract, essentially shutting down the district and having a "lock out".

LivininLevittown said...

It should not take so long for the school board to report this to the public because we are the ones who pay the bills. We all knew the teachers were not going to want to pay their health bills but you only realised it now after a year of talks. For once the public is behind the board so you should have told us about this sooner. Maybe now the teachers will listen when they hear how angry the public is.

William O'Connor said...

JS - There are no further increases or raises until a new contract is negotiated.

I cannot answer for the NFT, but I believe your opinion that "it makes absolutely no sense for the Union to settle. They'll continue to get a better deal hanging on to this old contract" is quite common.

Not much else we can do now but hope for meaningful negotiations between both sides.

Lisa said...

I hope that the school board holds its' ground!! There is no way that the people paying the salaries and benefits of these spoiled teachers can afford to keep giving. We are not getting increases in our pays. The economy is terrible, why should they be the only ones not being effected?
It is completely unreasonable.

IrishFarm said...

The others above have already said some of the things I am thinking. I want to add my support to what the board is doing. Stay tough no matter what. If the NFT thought going in with a zero contribution strategy was a good negotiation tactic, they have made a grave mistake. For once I am really behind what you guys are doing William.

nostradamus said...

The union actually rejected the idea of paying for benefits. Wow, I didn't see that one coming!

nostradamus said...

Yes, that was a sarcastic comment.

KClarinet said...

How much trade-off is there between the boards' not getting any change in health care terms and the teachers' not getting any raise at the top salary step? Now that so many retirements have become effective, what percentage of the teachers are now at the top step? Mr. O'Connor, does the board have any figures available on how much the saving is from the 3% they've offered but for now aren't paying the teachers (over the entire salary schedule) vs. how much it would be getting back from teachers if the board's health care contribution proposal had been accepted?

I ask because I really don't know.

I must be living in Jersey said...

William, does this mean you will have to sleep with one eye open in your house? :-]

William O'Connor said...

KClarinet - Sorry but I don't have that data handy.

Jersey - My life at home is no more dangerous now than before :-)

Gabriel said...

IrishFarm is correct. A going-in position of no change in benefits contribution is a mistake by the union leadership. If they had even agreed to something absurdly low like 5%, at least it would have given the appearance of compromise and good faith negotiation. As it now stands, the teachers have made it virtually impossible for the public to support them.

Rebecca said...

I'm concerned things will get nasty now. I hope not for the childrens sake.

News Flash said...

Yes things will get nasty. Both sides will exchange accusations, and parents will have to take a stand if we want this thing fixed any time soon. This was never going to get settled nicely. The union had a very favorable contract. If we were in their position, we wouldn't give it up so easily without a fight either. That is why the board should have gone public with this much sooner. A year has been wasted with nothing to show for it.

JS said...

A note to the Board.

Do not allow ANY raise to be retroactive unless health beneft contributions are also retroactive.

Even with out a raise at the moment, if they know they will get a retroactive raise they will hold out AS LONG as possible knowing they will get a retroactive raise anyway, but avoid paying health benefits until then.

The NFT seems delusional, but I just think they are playing a game of chicken where they know the District will flinch at the wrong point.

Erik said...

You got that right, JS. Great point. If the cost to them for benefits is greater than whatever increase they get then they won't even want retro pay.

swelle said...

The teachers will not strike because they are better off under the current agreement even without salary increases. Their next strategy will be "work to contract" which means they will only do what is absolutely necessary to fulfill their obligation with no extras. They won't go out of their way to help students, they won't decorate their classrooms. This is their way of putting pressure on parents and the school board by bringing our children into the mess.

nostradamus said...

Here's a bold prediction:
* The union will not comment to the Courier Times reporter.

nostradamus said...

"bold" prediction = more sarcasm.

JS said...

I have a quick email response from the Courier's Rachel Canelli who states there will be an article in the paper tomorrow.

She also states that she has reported that the Board is not going to entertain retroactive pay increases. I have not heard or read this before, but I hope it's true.

William O'Connor said...

It's absolutely true, JS. From the very beginning of our discussions with the NFT, the board's position has been no retro pay.

Pianomom said...

Thank you for keeping us informed William. I appreciate what you and the board are doing and I hope an agreement can be reached soon.

JS said...

I would like to know if I'm remembering things correctly. There are comments out there that the most recent NFT proposal had a 4% raise not a 6%.

Is this true and the board is using and older number to make it sound worse? The board has a lot of public opinion on its side. If they start avoiding the truth that backing will start to falter and it will look like the Board is trying to back stab the teachers.

Just curious.

neshaminy101 said...

At a board meeting last month a gentleman said that the public should not confuse these negotiations with the teachers' loyalty and dedication to our students. He is right but that's not what will happen here. The public will have hard feelings over what the teachers are doing. If I were a teacher I would tell my union leaders to negotiate a little more and stall a whole lot less.

William O'Connor said...

JS, our calculations say 6% when you consider the increases within the steps.

JS said...

I would like to point out that it does not appear that many teachers were even aware of this last offer by the Board. It was a Union Leader decline, not a Union decline.

Not saying they would have accepted, but I think we can hold off on the teachers themselves slightly because they didn't even vote on this.

sk.langhorne said...

The teachers are being lambasted over on the Courier's blog since they have no rules of civility. You guys better lick your wounds quickly then restart discussions with the board asap. Your union leaders are making you look greedy and uncaring. Is that how you want the community to see you?

Levittowner said...

There are many hard working teachers. I want to be a parent that supports our teachers.
Unfortunately, I have nothing but anger right now. The audacity of putting *nothing* on the table with regards to putting something in for their healthcare is a slap in the face to the citizens of this school district. I would tell it to the teachers' faces, except I don't want to take a chance of inadvertantly dragging my children into the whole thing.
Also,we need to get rid of the ability of teachers to strike.

srodos said...

It is unrealistic in today's economy to demand that the taxpayers contribute 100% of the cost of teacher's healthcare. The same taxpayer is paying in excess of 20% of their own healthcare with higher co-pays and is glad that they still have healthcare.