Friday, September 25, 2009

NFT protests continue

Despite a notice from the school board which advised that picketing on district property was unlawful, protesting teachers ventured onto school grounds at several elementary buildings during back-to-school night to show their displeasure with the status of contract negotiations; protesters at Heckman remained on the sidewalk rather than picketing on the grounds.

According to the Board's Contract Negotiation site, The NFT's proclaimed concerns about "fair" negotiating ring hollow in light of their insistence on breaking the law in order to publicize their views.The District's final Back to School Night activities for the year will be held next Wednesday, September 30 at Neshaminy High School. Once again the Board asks the NFT to respect State law and refrain from picketing on school property.

In today's Courier Times is a recap of last night's protests as well as a Thumbs Down editorial. After you've digested all this reading material, take a moment to participate in the Readers Survey over to the right.
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44 comments:

Levittowner said...

I find it very disappointing that teachers at most of the elementary schools didn't picket off of school grounds.

The teachers seem to be starting down the proverbial road where one strives to win the battle only to lose the war. The teachers seem to be jumping right on their union bandwagon.

They either are dilusional about what they believe parents truly think, or they are becoming bullies.

Levittowner said...

Just a suggestion, but on your vote..you should also ask if the person is a parent with a child in the system and if they are a teacher.

Gabriel said...

One teacher told me he didn't see any harm in protesting at the school because they stood there quietly and just held up their signs. I told him the very fact he is there can be disruptive and intimidating because it isn't the time or place for a protest.

If I came home one night and a stranger was standing on my lawn to protest something, I don't care how nice and polite he was - I'd call the police because I do not want him there. He can protest out in the street but not on my lawn.

JS said...

I wonder what the teachers would say next week at the High School if tax payers stood outside and handed out papers that were unfavorable to them right next to the Elementary/Middle School teachers?

If they do it quietly and calmly then the teachers should be all for "fair" treatment, right?

It's sad that the only thing teachers might react to is an obvious public reaction back at them.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment is submitted by Phrustrated in Philly.

I was looking at the online version of the Courier's story, and saw that several of the reasonable comments were from the same people who comment on your blog -- Blume, Gabriel, Buckspa. How come none of these people apparently ever speak up at our board meetings? Blume even specifically suggested that, but I'll be darned if I can remember anyone except Larry Pastor and the usual gang from VFM voicing strong support for the Board in the contract negotiations.

Phrustrated in Philly

Jose said...

i know parents in pennsbury and there is still some anger over the strike there a couple years ago. our teachers have not yet gone on strike but they are starting to push parents to the edge. gabriel is right in his example. last night was not a time for protests and it does not matter how polite the teachers were. i hope the support worker settle now because i don't want their jobs to be outsourced and it will put added pressure on the teachers union.

4thekidz said...

After attending the back to school nights, last week at the middle school and last night at the elementary school, I too was disappointed to see the teachers picketing on the school grounds.
If last week was the 'shock and awe' part of this campaign then last night was the intimidation factor. I see no other purpose when they are stretched out along either side of the doorways.
It is much easier to drive thru
the line of blue than to walk through it. Peaceful or not.
But obviously the union wants to make the parents feel uncomfortable and somehow that would translate into support for them.
Sorry, bullying tactics only make me resist what you are trying to communicate,even as you place your info paper 'gently' in front of me as I walk by.

KClarinet said...

Just two reactions (I'm already on record here as disapproving of the picketing for tactical reasons with no opinion about the legalities involved):

Gabriel, your property is private and no one should be standing on your lawn for any reason whom you haven't invited. The board's declarations notwithstanding, schools, including the grounds surrounding them, are public property. Whether or not public picketing on school property is illegal is for the attorneys to straighten out (I truly don't know), but it is in an important way different from picketing on your front lawn.

JS, I wouldn't actually see anything much wrong with what you suggest, and I'd bet the teachers would be self-disciplined enough not to do anything more than they've been doing. Of course, I also assume the members of the taxpayer group would limit their actions to holding signs and handing out leaflets and would not try to provoke direct confrontation.

If both sides do their protesting "calmly and quietly," I don't think the teachers could have much to say about it. If the school board went no further than to scold the teachers for behavior it claims is illegal (if laws were being broken, the police could have been called, although the board, I think wisely, avoided that step) it would surely have to extend the same tolerance to the same action by a taxpayer group.

Jake said...

The teachers are daring you to arrest them so they can become martyrs. If they get arrested there will be other AFL-CIO unions that will help them and I bet that is what they are hoping for. Too bad because it won't help. This school board isn't putting up with any of that crap, and they have 75% or more of the community behind them. Nobody wants this thing to get worse than it is but the teachers don't realize that patience is getting thin.

Pianomom said...

I thank whomever was running the protest over at Heckman. I don't like that they protested on back to school night but at least they obeyed the law. If that same kind of common sense and restraint could make its way into the negotiations maybe we might get somewhere.

Joe-in-Bucks said...

I am a parent and protesting at any school event should be prohibited. I find it in poor taste that teachers are picketing at back to school night. This is a time for parents to get to know their childrens teacher a little better and focus on their education. How would the teachers feel if I came to the school and picket outside their classroom. I think it would be big disruption to the class. just making a point...

ssrudy said...

I wrote the teachers a note today to tell them how disappointed I was and how I lost all respect for them. They looked us in our eyes at back to school and told us how much they love the school and the students and it is the best place to work. If it is so great then why do they need more money 18 out of 24 in Federbar that make over 95,000.00 a year plus free benefits. I think we need to form our own non-union union and stand together to show them that most parents do not agree with the teachers

maryjo tunney said...

Here is another let down. My10 year old daughter walked home today by herself with this letter that was sent home about a man who has been close to and watching our children in the playground and the Neshaminy Staff member has approached him to tell him to go on several occasions before today. Instead of notifying the walkers parents of this situation they sent her to walk home by herself. The Teachers should have taken the time to call each home of walkers in their class which I am sure is not many but they were to busy wearing their blue shirts and have a off premise lunch They have not regard for our children and keep proving that over and over again another disappointment.

srodos said...

The problem with the contract situation is that everyone is too busy "posturing" and no one is busy negotiating. This goes for both sides.

acs said...

SRODOS, So far the board has negotiated with all unions and admin PHENOMENALLY. The best I have ever seen in a SB. They have Boyd and NFT as desperate as I have ever seen a teacher union. She is on the hot seat big time with members that is now leaking out. Many teachers are upset with the public reaction against them and humiliated by union leadership.
I know you have a bias for the teachers and this is fine. However, unlike the teachers the board has common sense and understands the real world. More importantly they are in touch with the vast majority of people in the district on this. I am not sure your profession has afforded you experience with union negotiations. Boyd is not out to be nice and do the right thing for students or residents she is out to WIN-AT ALL COSTS PURE AND SIMPLE. She serves the teachers and no one else. You seem to always accept this as ok but a board playing hardball is not. With all due respect your comments lead me to believe your background must not include much negotiation experience at all. Mine does. Remember Shanker, the great teacher union leader said it best..."when students pay union dues I will start representing their interests". They are all the same. This is a hardball business and up til now only the unions have gotten away with playing it .....This board has guts to do it and I applaud them.
Teachers are displaying embarrassing greed overtly to the community. Now that it is public and parents who were not paying attention before are now and they are outraged at what teachers are protesting. Sadly our teachers have sullied their reputation badly and they are now in a no win situation. The board and Dr. Muenker has improved theirs 100 fold from any previous board in NSD.

Enough Already! said...

As a parent that was at Heckman's back to school night, I can attest that although they technically were on the sidewalk, I had to walk past about 20 teachers protesting to get to the door. They were between the parking lot and the front door, they were not by the street. It was very sad to be put in this position on a night that was supposed to be about getting to know your child's teacher.

My new slogan is, "I may love my kids' teachers, but I just can't afford them anymore." If they think that they are going to sway the public with this sad display, they are going to be very sorry! I heard not one sympathetic parent at bts night.

st319 said...

Of course srodos is sympathetic to the teacher side of the negotiations. His son is a contracted teacher in Neshaminy.

JS said...

phrustrated, I agree that more of us should be speaking up at Board Meetings. There could be many reasons for why some don't.

It could be that veiled in annonymity here on the web we say anything because we don't have the guts to in public.

It could be that getting to a Board Meeting might not fit into our schedule. Ask our blog host.... (sorry, just a joke, couldn't resist, don't ban me)

Another, and my reason, is that current situations may not allow for such vocalities. Whether it be a friend, neighbor, or family member, there may be some person that speaking out may impact. If that changes then you can call those who still don't speak up lazy/cowards/blowhards.

I will continue to voice my opinions where I can and hopefully even if I can't speak in reality, someone may read my words and be inspired themselves to ask/speak up. (Wow that doesn't sound egotistical at all does it? :) )

srodos said...

I have said many times on this blog that the offer by the School Board is more than fair. I also believe that there are as many on the pay scale who are happy to be employed as there are those at the top of the pay scale who look at the offer as solely consisting of give backs. I believe that this is the crux of the underlying issue.

acs said...

srodos, please explain. Not sure what you mean since there is ONLY ONE official position that matters-the NFT position that teachers will never pay for healthcare.

Str8 Shutr said...

srodos you think there are no further negotiations because there is posturing going on. Maybe there is posturing because there is nothing left to negotiate.
You folks have this situation all wrong. We should not want this contract settled now. It will be uncomfortable but let it go on for a couple years so our teachers won't be in the top 3 of highest paid districts. When they lose that status the union will settle. They will still be among the highest paid but not as much, and tax payers will finally have a reasonable contract. That seems like a fair solution to me. If the teachers don't like that then they better settle now.

srodos said...

Str8 Shuter - this is the obvious longer term solution.
I said before that the healthcare payment versus salary increases may be a wash,in fact it may be cheaper to the District, if one could actually determine the cost of the healthcare. This would still leave the so-called retirement incentive and 100% healthcare for retirees.

JS said...

William may be able to back me up, but the health care premiums alone cost an additional $1.8 million this year. Yes we might have saved that much in raises, but we can at least control that rate. What ever BCBS decides to hike the premiums this next year the District will just fork over the money.

Also there is a good point about the retirement incentives. The older teachers (i.e. the ones at the top of the pay scale and years) have the least to gain from settling. Their pension number is pretty much set so any raises will have minimal impact. The other suggested cuts though hit hard. No payout ($27k is a tough amount of money to see go POOF a year or two before you get to it), no free benefits until 65 (from 55 to 65 this may save them 20-30k).

The NFT leadership (usually the most senior teachers) has every reason NOT to settle, so unless the District can find some way to force the issue(cough...make a lower...cough...offer....cough), I feel the teachers will just continue to hold out.

At some point the seniority level at which the lack of raises is impacting will eventually work high enough to force the NFT membership to decide to move ahead...maybe...

William O'Connor said...

JS, I do recall the cost increase to insurance this year was around $2 million.

acs said...

Frankly I am ok with this "negotiation" running out for a few years....Let's say NFT stickers that say "1460 days without a contract". We will not be paying any increases and that will lower our overall pension costs. There may be other cost reducing benefits of no settlement that William can tell us. I do know healthcare will cost us with annual inflation but we have that now. However teachers dont's see this as a raise-like I do- they want real wage increase unlike anyone else. Now with no retro raises the majority of teachers could lose 2-3 even 4 years of raises....will members support Boyd on protracting this?
I think Boyd did the back to school night action to gauge how a strike would be received. I think she got her answer with the board, public and parent reaction. Again the board has the right offer and position. And is broadly supported by the community unlike teachers. No reason to move - let them work for years with no contract.
William any other cost benefits to Taxpayers to keep them working under expired contract

acs said...

However teachers dont's see this as a raise-like I do- they want real wage increase unlike anyone else.

to clarify.....wage increases that no one is getting in private sector now...

William O'Connor said...

As you noted ACS, we will continue to have inflationary costs for health insurance to both active and retiring teachers, and of course there is still that $27.5k retirement perk. The freeze on pay increases (no annual raise, no steps) will offset some of that.

Just a reminder that the difference over three years between the board's offer and the NFT's demands is around $16 million. There is really a lot of money at stake here.

neshaminy101 said...

You hit the nail on the head acs when you said the NFT was using these events as a way of measuring public support. Mr. O'Connor's poll seems to reflect what I have seen and heard, the vast majority of people do not appreciate the teachers showing up at back-to-school night, and they do not support their outrageous demands. The only reason the teachers don't hear more directly from parents is because they're afraid teachers will take it out on their children (not saying they will, but that's the fear).

LivininLevittown said...

To bad you couldn't restrict your poll voting to just Neshaminy residents. I bet most of those who who voted yes are teachers.

KClarinet said...

A lot of teachers are Neshaminy residents (and taxpayers).

acs said...

KC, Yes, but ironically most of them are not NSD teachers :) 65% do not live here and pay our taxes.
I find it fascinating that even with Boyd and all her so called support of members she couldn't even get them to login here and stack the vote in the teachers favor....pretty funny....shows you what trouble they are in.

News Flash said...

Nice going ACS. Now the "no" vote just dipped below 70% for the first time. Don't give them any bright ideas.

acs said...

Well now it may invalidate william's poll....funny if they didn't think of it til my post that tells us something :)

Libertae said...

Didn't you know the teachers won't negotiate or take a poll in public?Aside from the levity, I am concerned about the level of animosity being produced by the teachers giving out pamphlets ... what will happen when they actually start a job action? There's got to be a better way of handling teacher contract negotiations in Pennsylvania. I hate the fact that the community seems destined to be torn apart again.

acs said...

That is why PA needs to be a no strike state. Simon Campbell's focus in Harrisburg. Of course with Teachers owned legislature not likely to happen

acs said...

I think a meaningful poll question would be who actually supports the NFT and Teacher's positions.
Many people support union actions as a rule.
I will guarantee less than 5% of the community(only teachers and family mostly) supports the teacher's outlandish demands.
Back to school night protests have really woken a sleeping giant...I have heard from OUTRAGED parents every day since....Be curious as to what William and the board have heard in rsponse tothe flyers request that people call rich webb to say they want the baord tobe fair with teachers....bet the answer is ZERO.

ssrudy said...

How can we get all these upset parent to show up at the school board meeting on October 13? If the teachers actually saw how many parents are not on their side maybe they will do the right thing. This is the proper place to voice our opinions. We know that they are going to be at the High School Wednesday night.

KClarinet said...

For practical purposes, PA is a no meaningful strike state already. All a strike really can do is lengthen the school year up to June 30. Teachers cannot strike more days than can be made up within the fiscal year. So a strike can't ultimately cost school time. All a strike can accomplish is to make the community angrier.

No-strike laws governing other public service labor relationships specify other means of forcing contract settlements in place of strikes. In every case I've ever heard about it's some kind of binding arbitration process. School boards and taxpayer groups tend to resist laws that mandate binding arbitration (it takes the decisions that determine tax rates out of the local board's hands). In fact, I suspect that if it were offered in Neshaminy tomorrow, the NFT would be far more willing than the board to submit to it.

Jake said...

SSR, there are some parents organizing a rally for tomorrow's high school back to school night. Unlike the NFT, they will keep it legal and stay off the school grounds.
Everyone should email these parents and commit to showing up for this peaceful but powerful rally. For details, send an email to neshaminytaxpayermoms@gmail.com

Jake said...

KC, for once I agree with you. The NFT is more likely to take binding arbitration because they have nothing more to lose. Arbitrators will try to find middle ground even where there is no middle. The board has already made their best/last offer and the public majority supports them. As far as we are concerned, that offer IS the middle. If we wanted to take the extreme position like the NFT did, the board's offer would be ZERO increase and 25% benefits contribution. All of a sudden a 3% increase and 15% benefits offer sounds pretty down the middle.

KClarinet said...

In one form of binding arbitration (which, ironically, I think is the way Major League Baseball does it with their arbitration cases and many police and fire contracts are done this way as well) the arbitrator has to choose one or the other offer - he/she can't split them down the middle. This method forces each side to try to make a reasonable offer - an extreme offer has a much greater chance of not being chosen.

acs said...

WOW looks like the memo to the NFT team finally went out to get on O'Connor's poll....only took 3 days into poll to figure it out how to tilt it in their direction....

News Flash said...

It figures ACS that NOW the teachers listen to you.

acs said...

The more teachers on this Blog the better. It is the only place where reality is discussed constantly, so perhaps they will finally learn what the real world is all about.