In today’s Courier is a letter from a Donald Brown raising concerns over outsourcing. Mr. Brown is a retired Neshaminy Facilities worker. First he blames Neshaminy’s economic woes over the raises given to Administration. My response to that is any negotiating unit that accepts the Board’s offer does get their raises but also has to start kicking in for benefits at a rate of 15% - 17% over three years. So as soon as NESPA accepts the Board’s offer (IF they accept the offer), they too will receive their salary increases along with a contribution to benefits – just like Administration. And the total dollar amount of raises paid to NESPA workers will dwarf what was paid out to Administration.
Next Mr. Brown goes on to say that outsourcing vendors trick you with low-ball initial bids, only to hike their rates massively in future years. That’s some trick. The vendors are guaranteeing us substantial savings for five (5) years. We’ll save millions if we go the route of outsourcing. Even if at the end of the five year term the outsource vendors raise their rates to astronomical levels (let’s say even as high as what our current costs for support services are), we will still have saved millions of dollars. At that point, we will re-bid the services to the lowest costing, qualified service provider anyway.
Lastly the author suggests that the District has squandered money away by repurposing funds not paid to the State workers’ pension for some seemingly nefarious reasons. Of course Mr. Brown offers no proof of this but rather just throws a theory out there with no regard to fact. After all, it’s easy to fight fact with fear. It’s just like a headline in the National Inquirer . . . how do you refute a rumor that’s just plucked out of thin air other than to say it’s not true? So Mr. Brown, it’s not true.
Ahhh, but there is more . . .
The District is not negotiating in good faith and is treating the Support Staff workers like “second class citizens” says NESPA President Mindy Anderson as quoted in a recent article appearing in The Advance.
For quite a while now I’ve been listening to Ms. Anderson accusing the Board of not caring about our employees, and even going as far as linking the Board’s position to lacking concern for the students – You see, in her world if we don’t back down, we are hurting the children. That is evident from her statement that “it’s not a question of dollars when the children are at stake.”
Ok Mindy, so I should assume that capitulating to NESPA’s demands will only help the children? Hmmm, I’m having a little problem with the math on that one.
Looking towards next school year, we have a $7.3 million deficit. Just to get within the State-mandated Act 1 inflationary limit, we must knock $3.9 million right off the top. If we give NESPA all that they have asked for, we won’t even make a dent into that number. That would leave us with only one realistic alternative: Cut student programs. Lots of them, a few million’s worth at least. Should we give NESPA what they ask for at the expense of our students’ education? According to Mindy Anderson, the answer is yes. She didn’t use those words, but that’s what will happen if we give her what she wants.
Perhaps the next time Ms. Anderson addresses us from the podium, she can provide specific suggestions as to what programs we should cut in order to cover the millions of dollars needed to pay for their contract demands. Should we eliminate Fine Arts? After-school clubs? Sports? How about cutting our AE classes? I would really appreciate some help here.
And I’ve gotta be honest, Mindy . . . this whole “second class citizen” thing is sooooo 15 minutes ago. Nobody is going for it. Can we please dispense with these clichés found in every negotiation playbook?
Look, you’ve had a great run. Your union got its members incredibly generous CBA’s in the past, but the windfall is over. It’s nothing personal. We simply cannot afford those inflated costs any more, and we are not willing to cut student programs. There just aren’t a whole lot of options left. For the sake of your entire rank and file, I hope you’ll reconsider the Board’s offer and will do so immediately. This isn’t a game to see who will blink first.
Ok, I’m good. Thanks for reading.