Monday, July 27, 2009

Negotiations to continue

As posted on the Board's new negotiation blog, http://nsdboard.blogspot.com, the next round of discussions between the Board's negotitation team and the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT) is set for Wednesday, August 19th.
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14 comments:

sk.langhorne said...

I am glad to see that both sides continue to meet but what hope is there for real progress? Neither side feels they can back down which make compromise impossible.

LO in Langhorne said...

If you define "progress" as getting a signed contract now, then you are correct sk - there won't be any. I would choose to look at it another way. The goal here is for the board to secure a reasonable (by taxpayer definition) contract with the teachers - pay them a competitive salary with good benefits, but reel in some of those exorbitant costs like no insurance contribution and a $28,000 retirement payment. This goal won't be achieved this year or probably not even next because it requires a huge concession by the NFT that they are not prepared to give.

The NFT made a mistake by not going into the negotiations with benefits contributions on the table. It made them appear greedy, unrealistic and compeletely unreasonable. There is virtually zero public support for them. They have had a run of the place for years but now have run into a brick wall. If their leaders back down now, they will appear weak.

In reality the NFT has already lost this chess match. They just can't see it yet because the truth is too many moves away. They can ask for all the meetings they want. They can strike. They can work to the letter of the previous contract. All this will just anger an impatient public and it will do nothing to change the outcome.

Back to my original point about "progress" - this is now a waiting game and the Board has the upper hand. Each day that goes by where the Board stays strong and has the support of the public, the Board wins a little bit more. Hopefully the teachers will eventually recognize this and force their leaders to make these long overdue concessions.

srodos said...

In my opinion meeting once per month is not the meaning of "negotiations". If they seriously were in the mood to settle the contract both sides should be locked in a room with no way out until a deal is reached. The Board has nothing at risk when meetings are once per month. I happen to agree with the Board on their current offer and thus I see no contract in the near future.

JS said...

I hate to say it, but the Board has only one option to force any move by the NFT.

That is to withdraw this offer and lower it to something more reasonable and respectable to the state of the economy (hence the value of having the job mitigates how much of a raise you should be getting) and to the state of the District (anyone else remember the millions in cuts and lay offs that we just had just to balance the budget?)

That lower offer serves two things. (1) It shows the Board is willing to make moves that parallel reality and won't just stick to one strategy just to get a deal done. (2) It gives the Board a better position if/when this whole process goes to arbitration. If any arbitration occurs (yes I know it's not binding, but when someone else says "this is what you should take" it makes a big difference) then having a lower starting point allows for the Arbitrator to settle in the middle. Right now, the middle is in the Teacher's best interest if this current offer really is the most the NSD can provide.

I really think it will take a move like that to get anything done.

Blume said...

Are you saying the Board should increase the contribution rate and then lower the salary offer in hopes that an arbitrator-suggested "middle ground" is closer to what the board really wants? I want to make sure exactly what you are saying.

JS said...

No I'm saying that the Board should lower the offer in general. Maybe no raise in the first year at all.

My point is that in this economy the fact of having a job with a guaranteed pension (regardless of what kind of contract is signed) is "benefit" enough. Many people would gladly take the ability to have a job with benefits, than be picky about the amount of raise that went along with it.

The whole point of negotiations is to find the middle ground (which is usually not the upper or lower limits of either group involved). The Board has stated that the current offer is the most that this district could possibly afford with out tax increases. That means that if middle ground is found from this starting point, the Board will be over the "limit". That means they would need to make a lower offer than the current one to resettle at this level.

So yes, in essence I feel that it is completely reasonable that in the past year since the Board first made their offer economic situations have changed and the District would be hard pressed to pay for such a contract. Make it a 2% raise and 17, 18, and 19% for example.

acs said...

JS, You are right and I believe exactly the same thing. The board's offer was much to high from the start. However, in collective bargaining there are laws and guidelines that impact starting points for renegotiating existing contracts. The net is you are somewhat prohibited from starting with a contract that is significantly reduced from the prior one so it is not possible for them to now withdraw it. Teacher unions are smart! They lobbied for 50 years to protect themselves from almost anything a school board can think of to gain the advantage.
You need to immerse yourself in labor law and collective bargaining to understand why the board started where they did. For example, by law you cannot reduce teacher staff only for economic reasons! Imagine if American business was limited in the same way? By the way it is in socialist Europe and look at all those economic world powers ;)...
The board is well within it's right to hold firm and when you think about it the board was brilliant to make the offer they did....it is seen as being more then fair by the community so now the teachers look like greedy kids by asking for a penny more. Also the world has passed them by on Healthcare. The thing that torks off the community the most is that they are SO greedy that in addition to being highly paid they still want free healthcare. So we pay through the nose on our HC costs rising at 8%+ per year and then get to pay out of our pocket 25K per year per Neshaminy Teacher family. Now where is the fairness in this?
So the board it right not to move from their position....any reasonable analysis would support that. Let the teachers swing in the wind for as many years as they want.....the board has 99.5% support from residents.......
.05% is only teachers and their parents that actually live in the district since 65% of NSD teachers live in more expensive districts like CR or ones where taxes are low because teachers aren't ripping off taxpayers....remember teachers are very smart :)

Tim said...

The admin unions that settled with the board had me-too clauses that guarantee them nothing less than what teachers get. If the board makes any concessions to the teachers then those will filter to the other union agreements. The board and taxpayers can't afford to back down to the teachers demands. Since the teachers won't make any concessions this standoff will go on for years. The only ones making money will be the lawyers and the taxpayers get screwed again.

neshaminy101 said...

Taxpayers aren't getting screwed because the board did things right this year. They reduced spending, students achieved AYP, things are going well. They haven't shown any signs of caving into the teachers demands. Taxpayers and all residents should be encouraged with the direction of this district.

acs said...

Ditto 101. However as I have said here before, if the board cannot contain the teachers contract to the current board offer all the other good work is for naught.

JS said...

And to go along with those decisions, is it true that besides the teachers and support staff already let go, that the Board will be looking at possibly contracting out custodial/foodservice and bus drivers?

News Flash said...

One look at the Neshaminy website in the bids section will tell you that. There is a bid for custodial services. If the teachers don't realize by now how committed this board is, they'll be without a contract for years and will gain nothing but lots of lost time, money and respect.

ProudtoTeach said...

101: "... the board did things right this year. They reduced spending, students achieved AYP"

The board had little to do with achieving AYP, the students and teachers did it. There was a tremendous amount of work put into bringing those scores up. It was all done by the students and teachers. Give credit where its due.

Spending reductions did not effect AYP preparation because it occurs in school hours, and has top priority in the school day. No matter what happens to other parts of the budget, the costs of achieving AYP will come first, regardless of cuts. The fact that they reduced spending has no correlation to achieving AYP.

neshaminy101 said...

I wasn't saying the board led to achievement of AYP. My point was that things were going relatively well in the district. At the same time if we didn't achieve AYP people would be screaming at the board so they should be praised when we are successful. Credit to students, faculty and administration along with the board.