Friday, April 16, 2010

How would you vote?

Ok gang, I'm interested in your feedback on something. But before you respond, please read everything below . . .

On Tuesday's agenda is a motion to oppose teacher strikes. Keep in mind that we have no power to actually stop strikes as that can only be changed in Harrisburg. If approved, this motion would be forwarded onto Harrisburg along with other districts who have passed similar motions.

Proponents acknowledge this motion really has no teeth but believe it is still the right thing to do. They also feel it helps to reaffirm the Board's strong stand in the current negotiations with the NFT.

Opponents would say that now is not the time to pass such a motion as negotiations are ongoing. There is already enough tension with the teachers and why make things more hostile, especially since it's up to Harrisburg to change the law.

I don't want to turn this into a debate over whether teachers should or shouldn't be able to strike, nor do I want to this to become a labor-bashing thread (hi, ACS!). What I want is your opinion on whether or not now is the time to pass such a motion.

Considering both sides of the argument, how would you vote if you were me?

(Note - only comments that deal directly with the question posed above will be published)


Hoosier Daddy said...

If I understand correctly you just want to know whether the timing is right. That is an interesting question. I'm against teacher strikes but I also don't see the point of this motion if the board has no real power. I don't see Harrisburg enacting this into law either because there is too much PAC money involved. Still I don't think teachers should strike.
I don't know when the right time would be but I vote NO that now is not the right time. Finish up outsourcing support staff first, then get back to serious talks with the teachers. Hold the line. If the teachers still refuse to bargain, then go ahead pass the motion later on.
Better you than me. Good luck!

Neo Con said...

I think this is a great time to bring up such a subject.

Definitely go with the motion to stop the ability to strike, this will get a clearer picture of what the public sentiment really is. I am a firm believer that the teachers should not have a union at all. Each educator should be evaluated on their ability and technique and let those results dictate their pay rate (on an acceptable scale of course). Dealing with each of them on an individual basis might just be too real world for them to deal with however.

Susan said...

I agree with Hoosier Daddy. There are more pressing matters related to the various contract negotiations that, in my opinion, make this completely unnecessary - particularly at this time.

Levittowner said...

You did a poll on this before..I was one who put a vote in of "No..doesn't mean anything anyways" or something along those lines.
However, times have changed in my opinion. Tensions have already been made high due to back to school night and Wednesday "shows of support" I love our teachers, but it is time for our community to join the many others to make "our" solidarity known to Harrisburg. We can't make changes until we let Harrisburg know enough is enough.
I say take a vote and vote "YES".

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by ACS was edited for content.

Very important to show the union that the board is serious and that a strike is unacceptable to the community. Also to show Frank Farry that he needs take action in H-burg.

Rebecca said...

I hate what our teachers are doing but to effectively negotiate William you and the others need to remain dispassionate. Vote no.

JS said...

I think it should be voted yes, but given a offical statement to go with it. Kind of like the Supreme Court gives.

It should be noted that the NSD BOD votes yes to oppose teacher strikes, but understand that as of now this is the legal right of action the NFT and other Unions can persue if they feel it necessary. This vote serves to send a message to Legislators in Harrisburg that the law pertaining to teacher strikes should be changed and nothing more.

Or something like that.

Hopefully being proactive with a statement like that will take away the feeling of attack on the teachers and put it more as pressure on Harrisburg.

Just my two cents.

ACS get's a shout out on the front page. :) And gets edited on the next :)

Str8 Shutr said...

You are one of the calm, intellectual ones on the board William. You admire teachers, we know that and the teachers know that. Of all of the board members, you must vote YES on this. Think of the message it sends. Maybe this motion has no teeth but it can pack quite a punch.

ACS = BBB (Blog Bad Boy)

Gabriel said...

Excellent points made by all but put me down with Hoosier Daddy. Vote no now and you can always revisit the motion another time. Get back to the bargaining table with emotions calm.

srodos said...

The only motion that makes sense is for everyone on the Board to vote that they will not cut any educational programs. A vote either for or against teacher strikes is on a par with a vote that the Eagles should win the Super Bowl.It is meaningless.

Joe Blasch said...

There is absolutely no reason for the Board to get in the business of legislation. It is the public that should be putting the pressure on Harrisburg. I vote NO on this issue.

acs said...

Guys just to defend myself I cant really remember what I said but is was not nasty was it William?.

C said...

The right to strike is the right to one opinion, be it collectively or personal, to limit a person or persons to their right of freedom is well beyond the scope of this blog, and I do not always agree with the opinions of some people on this site I respect their right to voice it, and THAT IS WHAT MAKES THIS COUNTRY GREAT!

Rachel said...

I believe it would affirm the boards intent not to cave to any of the union's demands. Why should you disguise any indication that you are against what they are doing.

Eye on the Future said...

On the topic of a no strike clause for teachers in Pennsylvania, you have a double edged sword. Yes, you would prevent the always uncomfortable and difficult process of a strike, but on the other hand you are agreeing to a binding arbitration acceptance.
Currently we have non-binding arbitration, which is why we can go years without contracts and there is no real pressure to settle aside from stagnate pay and the threat of a strike to get a resolution. If you adopt a binding arbitration there has to be a settlement and there would probably be state mediators which would decide which proposal, the district’s or union’s, was better.
How would this impact Neshaminy, well I would assume that the NFT would have their proposal accepted. Not because it is most reasonable or because the districts is so outlandish, but because the state appointed “Fact Finder” sided with the teachers on EVERY point when they last compared proposals. Assuming the state appointed fact finder and a binding arbitration would be on somewhat the same point of view, binding arbitration benefits the teachers.
You will never have a no-strike law passed which strips teachers of every right to a fair contract. I know most of the bloggers will respond with “they are already compensated enough” and “what the board has offered is very reasonable” but a binding arbitrator does not look at the district’s needs, but rather the differences from contract to contract. It is absurd to think that a non-biased mediator would approve jumping from 0% benefits contribution to 15% contribution. Now a 6-10% contribution would be in the middle, but in binding arbitration you do not make a middle ground it is either one or the other. So it is either the Teacher’s proposal or the District’s proposal, not a restructuring of the both to find a median.
I personally would love to see binding arbitration and take most of the power out of the board. They are too concerned with keeping taxes lower and not focused enough on the welfare of the student’s education. William, I respect your blog and your positions on different educational issues, many of the other members of the board paint a negative picture of our school board. As someone put it recently in the newspaper, “teachers are now being asked to build the same house with half the lumber.”

RVN6869 said...

Mr. O'Conner, I would suggest a YES vote for the resolution that was mentioned in prior board meetings. Even at this time. When is a really good time to vote on this?

I know that at one meeting, it was mentioned that a strike really didn't hurt anyone. I don't believe that. I have talked with a few Seniors at the school around Christmas and they were worried about delays that would effect them for their future College information, etc.

Years ago, we lived in a different school district and went thru that with our son at his school. The strike only hurt the students and the parents. Nobody really gains by strikes.

acs said...

William, After thinking it through frankly if the board can't pass this unanimously or at least 7-2 or 8-1 I would say DO NOT bring it to a vote. It will potentially show board weakness to the union. I would kill it in exec session if you dont have at least 7 votes and even then it is questionable. It will be interesting to see who is not for it though. It will tell you a lot. You can always vote later after outsourcing and after the NFT plays more cards if they do.

srodos said...

Eye on the Future:
My copy of the fact finder's report which I downloaded states :
"There has been no independent analysis of the health insurance issue and, as stated, there has been no real bargaining. Under these circumstances, I do not recommend a change in the health care insurance at this time.
Recommendation:No change."
In my view this statement can be interpreted as an indication that until there is an independent analysis and some real bargaining there should be no change. This report will be two years old on May 7,2010.
Both sides should get back to the table and respond to the issue.

jls08 said...

Now is not the right time. The board has shown their solidarity on this issue and public support is already with the board. No need to further inflame the issue at this time, especially since it essentially means nothing and it can easily be revisited later. The board should avoid any action that can be perceived as political until both labor agreements are resolved. Table the vote!

LetsBePractical said...

I agree with Joe Blasche--There is absolutely no reason for the Board to get in the business of legislation!

According to PSBA's website, the role of the School Board is:
- Through the staff, to develop and constantly improve the educational program.
- To provide adequate and effective personnel for school programs.
- To provide and maintain educationally efficient school facilities.
- To secure adequate financial resources.
- To maintain two-way communication between the board and students, employees, parents, taxpayers and the community.
- To select the chief executive officer, and to work harmoniously and honestly with that person.

Furthermore, the PSBA Code of Ethics states that "personal decisions should be based upon all sufficient facts" and that members "should vote our honest conviction without partisan bias". I am afraid some of our Board members may have become so compromised by bureaucratic intransigence that that they may have lost sight of the facts and/or utlimate goals. Let the public put the pressure on Harrisburg about whether strikes should be legal. My hope is that the Board re-focuses it's energy on retaining the most qualified individuals with whom we entrust our children to every day (regardless of contract or no contract; strike or no strike), and in implementing policies that ensure our children receive a quality education in a SAFE and HEALTHY environment!

Thank you Mr. O'Connor for your professionalism, and in seeking input, and for providing a method for stakeholders to share our thoughts, concerns, and opinions.

acs said...

LBP, So you think the board's recent resolution 9-0 vote demanding HBurg action on the PSERS crisis is a waste? If it isn't the board's responsibility to push for adequate legislation who's is it. School boards understand the issues better than any of us. They should take the ban stikes vote but only if a strong majority feel it is time to vote yes. School Boards in PA have sat idle for too long and let HBurg let unions run wild.

Tax payer said...

Why don't you instead become the board member who pushes for negotiations? It seems that nothing is happening - that the board has drawn its line, the union its line - so maybe you can get the ball rolling to some kind of fair resolution.