Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Inhouse or outsource?

As members of the Support Staff union (NESPA) picketed outside of last night's school board meeting, several parents inside voiced their support for the Support Staff and Teachers. They stated that the board should not consider outsourcing of support positions because those workers won't know and understand the children the way the current staff does. A couple of other speakers countered those opinions by raising concerns over the pending tax increases resulting from the State workers pension fund, and added that if teachers accepted the Board's offer then perhaps outsourcing wouldn't become necessary.

You can catch a synopsis of last night's meeting by reading this morning's Courier Times article by George Mattar.

Also last night the NESPA president, Mindy Anderson, presented the Board with another petition, noting that she now had collected 600 signatures. During her speech, Ms. Anderson quoted from my blog post where I said something along the lines of the petitions being a demand that we not outsource support staff jobs. I'm not sure if she was amplifying what I said or correcting it, but she went on to say what they were demanding were fair negotiations. Just to be sure I didn't misunderstand what the petitions demanded, I went back and re-read them. I kinda think I nailed it . . .

We, the taxpayers, of Neshaminy School District petition the Neshaminy School Board of School Directors to STOP all actions of threatening the School Support Staff with Sub-Contracting of their jobs. We do not support hiring for PROFIT companies and/or eliminating or reducing livelihoods of the Neshaminy Support Employees.

I do give the NESPA picketers credit for respecting district property last night and restricting their activities to the outer fringe of school grounds by standing near the bottom of the driveway entrances. I hope the NFT follows this same example at Thursday's elementary back-to-school night meetings and other district-sponsored events.

To be clear on the matter of outsourcing, the Board continues to negotiate with NESPA on a new labor agreement but we are also keeping our options open by inviting in bids from external vendors. Our hope is that we can successfully negotiate a deal with the Support Staff, but the current economic climate forces us to look down other possible avenues no matter how unpopular they may be.
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27 comments:

Pianomom said...

I hate the idea of local people losing their jobs but I have also heard that the district can save millions if they outsource. I don't know if that is true or not, but if it is then it's something the board cannot ignore and this board has shown it will not back down. My advice to the support workers - take the offer NOW!!

KClarinet said...

Apart from NESPA members' concerns about outside workers knowing or understanding the district's children (or perhaps any children), outsourcing anything does bring a definite loss of district control over the way outsourced services are delivered and, to a large extent, by whom. Council Rock, I think, had hired a busing company (Laidlaw?) and a few years later brought their transportation back in-house. I don't know why they made either move, specifically, but I remember lots of sturm und drang about buses missing their routes, not being available especially under poor weather conditions. Drivers or food workers whose conduct toward kids brings on parent complaints (whether justified or not) are harder to deal with - I imagine the hired company's administration would have to be involved and they, not the district, would have ultimate control over what if any corrective action is deemed necessary.

In addition to basic loss of district control, you still have labor issues, maybe worse than the ones we have now. I don't think Act 195 covers Laidlaw's drivers or ARA's food preparers. If they strike against their company in a contract dispute, the district becomes a bystander in a conflict that is not, I don't think, limited by state laws that regulate strikes by teachers or other public employees.

Clearly, I really don't have the facts in this area at my fingertips, but these are certainly issues that could raise the potential cost of doing this substantially higher than the actual contracted price the board might agree to.

Has the board gotten far enough to have investigated these possibilities, Mr. O'Connor?

William O'Connor said...

KC, we are aware of such concerns with outsourcing but are not at the point of investigating them yet. All board effort to this point has been towards negotiation with NESPA.

LivininLevittown said...

I have friends who are cafeteria aids and bus drivers and I don't want them to lose there jobs. I also have neighbors who can't afford big tax increases and I don't want them to lose there homes. Here is the solution if teachers accept the boards offer. Then the board won't have to outsource jobs of people who make alot less money than the teachers do. Not only should teachers be thinking about local taxpayers but they should also think about the support staff. Their actions hurt both groups.

KClarinet said...

To LivininLevittown:

I doubt if there's a single person on any side of this issue who doesn't share your concern about seeing people lose their homes who can't afford their school taxes. Although individual hardship caused by tax rates and the need to fund the schools are usually lumped together into a single problem, they really don't need to be the same issue. Property taxes are a relic from an era before the Industrial Revolution when property and income were more or less synonymous or at least equivalent, and people who owned property were pretty automatically the ones who were most able to pay for needed government services (and, by the way, the only ones allowed to vote in most places that allowed voting at all). We've long since left that equivalence behind and today people who own property may well have no liquid resources able to meet needs beyond daily living expenses, since most property itself doesn't now produce income unless the owner sells it. There are many ways this could be addressed, ranging from completely overhauling the kinds of taxes used to support public services all the way to simply forgiving whatever part of a property owner's tax is truly unaffordable for him or her.

Unfortunately, those in government (primarily at the state level) with the power to do something about all of this find it much easier to stay mired in an archaic system they already know than to risk looking seriously into meaningful changes that could eliminate the hardships you've mentioned.

nostradamus said...

I warned you all months ago there would be no settlement on the teachers CBA until the rabit makes way for the dragon. Negotiations will not matter. School board elections will not matter. Tax hikes and district layoffs will not matter. None of these will expedite resolution at this time.
What will matter then cannot be seen now.
How's that for being cryptic?

acs said...

Outsourcing any service carries it's set of risks and problems. All I know is the board is dead serious and the support staff needs to settle now andnot let this get beyond their control. There are people who are demanding that bid costs are made public. Once the board gets bids in house and bidding is closed this can be made public under the FOIA. Then all bets are off if board can't justify keeping higher cost labor inhouse. I feel if we can afford to keep it inhouse we need to. I appears the answer rests clearly with their union leader.
600 signatures mean nothing to board-only reasonable contract consession needed for our budget matter to them and although I am sure they do not want bad publicity of outsourcing jobs now.....
But we all know who the 800 lb gorilla bad guy is....Boyd and teachers....support staff dosen't seem to realize they could be long gone when NFT settles its contract if ever.....loyalty only matters to her and NFT if it lines their pockets in end.....if support staff wants a villian it is teachers not the board.

csld said...

Believe me Support staff realize that we are the scrape goats for the teachers.We have said this all along.Hopefully the supoort staff union will settle and we will not have to risk our jobs because of the teachers union demands.

acs said...

csld, we have all been supporting you on William's blog. I think most if not all of us are very sympathetic. I think what is happening to the support staff is very sad indeed. Good people caught in crossfire of teacher's union with SB and community. Frankly the community does care more about you folks than the greedy teachers union leaders and their members. Based on the flyer and school incidents parents are now part of the anti-teacher movement. They really damaged their cause but now it hurts you since board is now empowered to hold firm.....I know who this works very well...I have said before encourage your president, who is fighting the wrong battle, to take the board's offer now. It will turn out very badly for members if you don't. Based on what I see and hear your union leadership is passionate but out of touch. If you all love NSD as she says and you want to keep working here take the offer. It only puts you on par will the rest of world where you will all be if the board outsources you!! Make sense??

csld said...

If it was up to the support staff that I know we would take an offer.We are not aware of an offer, myself and others believe that our union is holding out requarding the whole benefit thing ,something like I have said in the past does not affect (my quess)over 50 percent of the support staff.I do have faith that our union and the board will come to an agreement soon.The teachers on the other hand are a different story. The teachers are making alot of people angry by doing what they are doing in fact from what I heard again tonight they are picketing for the back to school night for the elementary schools.

JS said...

As far as I know any "offer" that was made had the same health premium contributions the Administrators have and has been offered to the teachers.

That's where the similarities end. From what I have heard the amount of cutting in other parts of the Support Staff contract has been fairly drastic.

Just remember that they don't get the same things as teachers. The only thing in the district the same for all parties is the medical coverage. Other than that pay/raises/hours/sick time/etc. is all different between groups. If they were offered the same as what the Administrators got I'm sure they would sign. Problem is they didn't so it's not so simple.

Again this is second hand information and I'm sure "semantics" will be brought up, but different is different.

William O'Connor said...

JS, the offers to all the bargaining units were virtually the same. If your source(s) can give you specific details into any major differences they perceive, I will be happy to verify the information.

Rebecca said...

csld, I don't want you to be offended by what I am about to say because you seem to be a very reasonable person.

The community knows you don't make anywhere near the money the teachers do so we are a little more sympathetic to your cause. Unfortunately today's economy puts you in the same boat as the teachers because you do have an excellent benefits package. This is unfortunate for you in the sense that you are being asked to make concessions on the one thing you have that makes your compensation package more than just competitive. And you are at a decisive disadvantage because, unlike the teachers, you can be replaced.

I'm willing to bet your leader is being pressured by the NFT leader not to give in. She's probably preaching all that unity and safety in numbers mumbo-jumbo. But if your jobs are outsourced, the NFT won't lift a finger to help you. You serve their purpose for only as long as you DON'T sign a new contract.

You said you haven't been shown an offer from the board to vote on. If I were you, I would question your leader why you haven't been shown an offer that was good enough for the other bargaining groups to sign. Why is she hiding it from you? What is she afraid of?

Instead of collecting more signatures on a petition, tell your leader that the board has already made its best offer (they aren't going to give you something better than the other groups who have signed) and the Support Staff must either sign the offer or risk losing their jobs.

I know that at least two of the board members were at the protests last night standing toe to toe next to the teachers. This board will not be intimiated (I sure as hell wouldn't stand next to dozens of protesters all by myself if I were them, would you?). If board members are willing to stand in a sea of protesters, do you really think petitions with a few hundred signatures are going to accomplish anything.

Stiffen your lips, swallow hard, take a deep breath ,, then sign the offer. Good luck to you all.

csld said...

Rebecca ,What benefit package I don't get any benefits.Like I said in my last post about over 50 percent of us don't get benefits.I have been with the district 14 years without any benefits and I am not looking for benefits.So before you tell me to swallow get your facts straight.I have not seen any offer but I am sure the problem with the offer it is about the small percentage that do get benefits.

march said...

Outsourcing services will save the district money but hurt many in the community. The school district I work for outsourced their buses and food services. It saved the school district money, but what happened was that many of the people that lost their jobs from outsourcing were hired back at lower pay and no benefits.

csld said...

March I am sure it would save the district money to contract out services.But for one thing Food Service is self supporting and recieve no tax dollars.Also by contracting out services people in the community will either lose their job or get a lower rate which in return they will not be able to pay their taxes so where does that leave this community.There will be alot of foreclosures and Neshaminy will not be one of the top school districts where people will want their children to go to.99 precent of the support staff live in the Neshaminy district in my school probably 2 percent of the teachers live in this district.

st319 said...

csld...

You stated earlier that you were not aware of any offer made to the support staff. Since there was an offer and your representatives have not shared it with you, you might ask them why? My guess is that since more than 50% of the support staff does not receieve benefits, as you stated on this site, you hold the majority. If a vote was held, those with benefits would be out voted by those without. That would mean the more than fair offer the school board has on the table would be accepted. So it looks to me like those without benefits hold all the cards. Why doesn't the majority demand a vote!

Can you imagine what would happen to the NFT if the support staff settled? The NFT has not been of any help or support to you. The NFT knows that the community is NOT on there side. Respect for the teachers is sinking fast, due to the actions of those in charge of their union and those that broke the law by being on school grounds at back to school night.

As a Neshaminy parent, I can assure you that I teach my children to obey the law!

Str8 Shutr said...

Excellent points Rebecca and St319! Why haven't NESPA leaders shown their rank and file the offer that was good enough for other Neshaminy workers to sign? Are the ones protected by these benefits looking out for their own while jeopardizing the careers of their co-workers without benefits?

csld said...

All I have to say is yes you have a point that they do have benefits and also they are full time employee which most of the support staff isn't.

csld said...

William all I keep on hearing on this blog is about an offer to the support staff union.I know you are not involved in the contract for the support staff ,but can you tell me this, was there ever an offer ?

William O'Connor said...

CSLD, please understand I am limited in what I can say but I can confirm there have been two offers, the most recent one was put in your leadership's hands last week and will be made public after our next meeting with NESPA on October 23,2009.

Str8 Shutr said...

Oh so your union isn't holding back from telling you about one offer, they're hiding two offers from you. It's a shame you have to learn about this from a blog - a blog written by a school board director no less.

uponfurtherreview said...

They better start sharing details with their people soon. I keep hearing that once outsourcing bids start coming in the board will see that they can save millions. Once that happens, they won't be able to turn their backs on the savings and they'll pull both offers off the table. This wouldn't even be necessary if the teachers union would accept the board's offer. Why on earth the support staff president has aligned herself with them I'll never know.

acs said...

Well the Support staff president is a regular reader and maybe contributor here. People are trying to help her here as it is obvious she is over her head and being out manuvered by board (and NFT for that matter).

csld said...

I am sorry to say that neither I or any of my co-workers know of any offers.It is a shame that we are in the dark.Thank goodness for this blog or I would not know anything.Thanks William. I can only hope that this gets settle soon.

William O'Connor said...

I hope so too, CSLD. When this is over, someone owes you an explanation.

News Flash said...

I don't suppose Ms. Anderson will mention her withholding of info from her people the next time she decides to quote from your blog. Wow, when the teacher and support union leaders say "no comment" to questions, I didn't know that it included their own people too.