Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Teachers show solidarity

As a show of solidarity, teachers today congregated at their respective schools prior to scheduled report times and then walked into the buildings in unison. All indications are that this was a respectful, uneventful display of unity. Further down below are some pictures of this morning's event at Maple Point, sent to me by a reader.

Several parents have contacted me recently about a planned work-to-contract action to be taken by the NFT later in the school year. While I too have heard rumors about this, I have no actual knowledge that such an action is in the works. For the sake of our children, I hope it is not true.



JS said...

I have also heard the work-to-contract possibility brought up, even by teachers (mostly because while they want to show solidarity, some feel it's a bad idea).

Frankly it's the only step the NFT has left. If they strike I'm guessing that really messes with them getting anything from the expired contract, so working to it is all they have left.

To be honest though, what does that do besides hurt the students? During a strike you put the strain on the parents to find supervision for the now out of school kids. WTC just has them in school, but teachers not doing an ounce of extra work.

All that shows is one of two things. First is that you can do your job in the allotted 7 hours spelled out in the contract and we should only pay you for those hours not the "countless hours at home" that teachers always claim they put in. The second would be that you would specifically do actions that only hurt the educational outcome of the students, so really what kind of teacher are you?

The bottom line is that teachers need to understand that there is "flex" time factored into their pay. Everyone knows that teachers don't just do their job during school hours, there is extra work, grading, etc. How much is a topic for discussion, but I don't think anyone would say that teachers don't take work home with them. Otherwise you wouldn't get the pay you get for only 1330 hours (190x7) when most people work 2000+.

This job is about the students (or at least it is supposed to be). What are you really saying about your ethics as a teacher if you do that?

Gabriel said...

A very respectful and poignant comment JS. It gets right to the heart of the matter. The NFT should read this carefully before deciding to work to contract. Any public support they have, which I suspect is minimal, would completely vanish if they took actions that hurt the students.

Levittowner said...

I know this may sound harsh..but if they start "working to contract" and can keep doing this indefinately I say we fire them all and start over.(Can we do that? Also, is it a group vote that decides if they will work to contract or does the union heads decide this? ) Frankly, I don't think they are worth the money if they aren't working "extra" and bringing that extra drive to their teaching. I hate to think of it, but I will lose the respect I once had for them if they work to contract and they voted to do so. I won't be able to help feeling that way.

Danielle said...

Just a quick note also the students at the high school which were only juniors because of pssa were in the building unattended because teachers were outside. Maple point students that were dropped off at regular time showed up to locked doors. So I don't see how its a good idea to leave students out or in unattended when myself as a bus driver am not allowed to EVER leave students unattended! Like I said before lets all get to the table and get this solved its going to start affecting the kids!!!!

William O'Connor said...

Danielle, what you said about the high school is correct in that there were students in the building without teachers present but it is important to note that they were not deprived of any class time. Unlike the middle and elementary schools (due to length of the day), the teacher report time at the high school is only 1 minute earlier than the student report time. When the first bell rang, both teachers and students were ready to go. So the students taking the PSSA's were not hurt by this particular event.

Regarding the locked doors at Maple Point, that sounds to be more of an oversight than a consequence of today's unity march into the building. Our superintendent is looking into the matter to ensure it doesn't happen again.

JS said...

It is a group vote, not just a Union leadership decision.

I believe the union heads would decide when and how, but the union as a whole already took a vote on the issue (and according to several teachers it passed, but I don't know by how much). I bet they'll love hearing how a confidential vote really isn't staying confidential.

Regardless of any show of solidarity by standing outside, the cracks are showing.

William O'Connor said...

The following comments were submitted by LL who requested that I post them on their behalf.

Do they not realize that I just lost my job on Monday - as have many others. I just can't stomach the teacher's demands right now and honestly, it's very hard for me to separate these issues from becoming personal when I have to deal with the teachers with respect to my children. How does one do that? How does one really be able to look them in the eye, knowing that we may have financial difficulties and yet, they want more, more, more. I am having trouble even teaching my children the proper respect to give their teachers when I can't respect them myself. I know that not ALL teachers are on board but as we all know, with a union, you can't NOT be on board even if you personally feel differently.

My family is VERY lucky, I only had a part time job and we will be fine. What about those whose jobs have been lost and it was their livelihood?

Str8 Shutr said...

Thank you for caring for the children Danielle. Unfortunately for you, your fate has already been sealed. Your union sold you down the river. They should have made concessions but they didn't, so your job will be outsourced while your leader will be uneffected.
Last I heard the teacher union leader said benefits weren't on the table so there really is no reason for the board to sit down with them. It would be like Tiger Woods asking his wife to go to marriage counseling but discussing his infidelity is off the table.
Why bother?

acs said...

I would sincerely hope there no returning to the table with NESPA.
This should be a done deal with taxpayer savings of $32M over 5 years vs less than $4M if contract is settled. In fact any board member that votes against outsourcing at this point votes for gutting education for the next 5 years.
So any that do and I can't imagine there would be any that out of it or that in fear of the union should be forced to resign their Director position for complete and utter incompetence and neglect of their main charter-improving NSD student education qulity. The community should be outraged at any director not wanting to privatize services.

Hoosier Daddy said...

We know they have solidarity now we need our teachers to show common sense and realism.

Neshaminy Taxpayer said...

That pic shows a bunch of "older" teachers that are making top dollar. Are the young teachers at the bottom of the pay scale showing solidarity?

acs said...

As far as teachers are concerned everytime they show solidarity now it is just another insult to the community and seems to be taken as such. They are digging their hole deeper and without any public or board support they can never get close to what they demand. The board has negotiated completely in good faith with a rational generous offer. When they take any actions now Boyd and NFT are just seen as greedier and more militant.
Everyone now knows despite repeated invitations from Webb, they refuse to talk for almost 2 years until paying for healthcare is off the table. This will never happen and demonstrates total disregard for students and community taxpayers.
No one can have it all anymore and as good old Frank K would have said, "Louise, the good ship lollipop has run aground, everyone abandon ship, men and women first since lord knows you sure don't care about the children"!

Hazeleyes said...

"everytime they show solidarity now it is just another insult to the community". That is SO TRUE. I read the blog update and thought ok so this is no big deal, but as the day went on I found myself getting angrier by the minute. I am losing all respect for our teachers. It's a darn shame!

Danielle said...

Its all craziness and frankly you all think your gonna save money hahaha! When and if they outsourse support staff the teachers are gonna get EVERYTHING they want mark my words it will happen and I hope they can sleep at night and look their kids and parents in the face when they lose jobs, homes and what ever else may come down the line. I pray for Neshaminy and the kids in it including mine cause this is all being drug out way to long. Like I said before I came here for the kids mine my family and friends and people are really getting disgusted.

Blume said...

As always William thank you for this blog and keeping us informed. We parents often stay in the dark too long on these matters. Your blog has helped me and many others pay attention.
I do not think this board will give into the teachers to the degree you believe Danielle. There may be some concessions by the board but the majority of concessions will have to come from the teachers. If support workers were outsourced because of these high cost benefits, it wouldn't be right for the board to turn around and just give them to the teachers.

acs said...

All I can say is for very bright well educated people the NFT rank and file seems quite dull on this one to keep hanging on to Boyd's coattails. She is so out of step with the reality of the situation her members are now in as a result of her greed and massive miscalculation on community anger.
William you and the board need to ignore the NFT and keep focusing on the kids and taxpayers. You owe NFT and NESPA absolutely nothing more then barginning in good faith which you have really gone to extremes to do. This board should be proud as long as you can hang on to 5 + votes in the end!!

st319 said...

To Danielle and any of you who are worried that any savings from outsourcing the support staff will be used towards an NFT has already been said by the board that any monies realized from outsourcing cannot be used to settle the teachers contract.

Levittowner said...

Is there something going on with the board? From what I've been reading it seems like there might be some on the board who are going to give in to the union's demands?

acs said...

Levittowner, you need 5 votes and people talk big but when real decision need to be made knees get weak. I think we will have this problem with a couple up there on board but remember, a board member that concedes ANY ground to either union is not 'erring on the side of the kids' they are voting for massive education cuts in the next few years. The reason we are here is becuse of GREEDY union leaders/workers.

st319 said...

And what have you been reading Levittowner?

I've seen nothing that would indicate that the board is going to give in to the union's demands.

William O'Connor said...

There are rumors that float around and I wouldn't give them too much credence. Ultimately you can judge us by our actions instead of rumors. Continue to come to meetings, make your voices heard, and pay attention to what's going on.

C said...

You blog people have finally made me laugh.The photo of the 800 lbs ape is actually you bloggers pounding your chest with the idea you have beat down the NFT. This board has proven to be powerless to the community when it comes to NFT. The teachers will stand pat in solidarity as long as this board does nothing. What will they lose not pay,not benefits,not retirement,nothing. This board will beat up the little weak kid on the block called NESPA because they are few, and easy to replace The NFT will never strike that would be the dumbest move ever they have the golden goose by the neck and know it. They are smarter then you think.The board will have to make a move first or this will go on till the district is bankrupt.I said it before and I'll say it again until you cut all ties with the NFT an start over, local taxpayers will just keep paying and paying because Harrisburg will do nothing to change the situation.

KClarinet said...

Twice in Rachel Canelli's and Joan Hellyer's article, Mr. Webb is quoted concerning NFT's "unwillingness" to negotiate health care:

"The school board president said unless the teachers are willing to discuss health care, future talks would be 'meaningless.'

"Webb said the board is willing to meet anytime but the NFT has shown no significant movement on the health care issue."

"Unless NFT leadership is willing to put that issue on the table, any further discussions would be meaningless."

Excuse me - the board has said (with the support of most of the contributors to this blog) that its health care demand is not negotiable. There is no way to "put that issue on the table" other than for the NFT to capitulate completely. Nonnegotiable means "this issue isn't on the table." How then is the NFT to "put that issue on the table" when it's been taken off the table by the board.

Spare me the lecture about whether or not the board's position is correct, laudable and heroic. You can't ask that the NFT "put this issue on the table" and say "it's off the table" at the same time. Either it's negotiable or it isn't. If it isn't (as the board has insisted to the cheers of most folks here), then at least have the honesty not to demand that the other side be willing to "negotiate" it. Use the more honest term - "unless the union is willing to give in to the board's demand...." There is no room for "significant movement" on an issue that has been defined as completely binary (black and white).

I realize that the NFT's capitulation is the hope and goal of most of the posters here. That's beside the point, and everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. If Mr. Webb's position has changed, he should say so more explicitly. If it hasn't, he shouldn't distort the language in so sloppy a way.

Angie said...

I know that I am speaking as a minority point of view here. We are paying the teachers to do what is in the contract. We don't pay them for anything else. We would not expect a police office to be on the streets all day and then go home, after hours, to write all the reports. Many teachers do go above and beyond the contract. The work they do above and beyond is greatly appreciated. But that work should also not be required if it is not in the contract. That is what we, as a public, are doing. We are saying by them working the contract that they should do this extra work. So for them to work the contract, they are doing the job that they get paid for, period.

I will also state, that they (both sides) need to get back to the table and hammer this out. I don't think 10% is bad at all. Teachers should be contributing towards their benefits. I do not agree with a retirement "bonus." You get paid for your work.

Str8 Shutr said...

I don't even know how to respond to these last few comments. Actually yes I do!

C - This board cannot "beat" the NFT because state law favors them. They cannot simply cut ties. That would be against the law. The board is standing up to the teachers for the first time in Neshaminy history. The only way we go bankrupt is if the board gives into the teachers demands.

KClarinet - When the contract was first discussed the teachers demanded more. More pay, more perks. Taxpayers wanted them to get a pay freeze and pay for up to 50% of benefits. The board came in with an offer that was more than fair and they were greeted with the union leader saying benefit contributions weren't on the table. The board stands firm, so now the teachers take the battle to the kids by wearing their blue shirts and protesting back to school night and having their little solidarity marches. Do you hear that sound KClarinet? Do you hear it? It's the sound of what little support the teachers had from parents sputtering away like the air out of a deflated balloon.

Angie - one problem with your belief about working to contract that the rest of us can't grasp. That isn't the way the real world works. These aren't hourly employees making minimum wage. They are paid extremely well for what they do, and in the real world that means you stick around till the job is done, not when the clock strikes 3pm. I'm not paying professionals $80,000 to $100,000 so they can just punch out at the end of their shift. If that's what they want to do then get a job slinging burgers at McDonalds.

acs said...

C, You have hit at the heart of what is happening but the other perspective is the longer the NFT stands in solidarity in the name of greed then the community will be forced eventually after outsourcing is don't, to cut education quality i.e. teacher's jobs. The board is to dug in to move and has too much community support.
Again I keep pointing to the nexus people are missing: Ironically the people totally responsible for the past cuts in education and all the cuts on the table for education this budget are our educators who care SOOOO much for the kids!! They are sucking all the money from the budget for their unique free healthcare, unique retire bonus and unique high salaries.
Remember C Act 1 completely ties the boards hands on any tax increases above it. The board cannot cover current or future deficits with taxes. Again we will be ok for a few years after outsourcing but in year 4 without an NFT contract the deficits will start again.

KClarinet said...

Dtr8 said,
"When the contract was first discussed the teachers demanded more. More pay, more perks. Taxpayers wanted them to get a pay freeze and pay for up to 50% of benefits. The board came in with an offer that was more than fair and they were greeted with the union leader saying benefit contributions weren't on the table."

You didn't really read what I wrote. I'm beyond arguing whether or not the board's position is right, reasonable or anything else. I'm done with that. I hear all the sounds. The one that insults my intelligence (if indeed I can claim any) is the sound of our board president performing double talk. He can take any position he wants to take, and you can cheer as loudly as you're able. It wouldn't change the basic impasse if Louise Boyd went to Rachel Canelli and said, "we're willing to negotiate the insurance premiums - we never meant to say we wouldn't move from 0% in the first place." It wouldn't matter if she came out and said, "We'll accept a 14% share of the premium payments." The NFT's position on health care payments has been irrelevant since Mr. Webb first came out and said "15-16-17% is nonnegotiable."

I doubt, by the way, if you have any evidence for your claim that the "the union leader [said] benefit contributions weren't on the table." The only source I've ever seen for that claim was Mr. Webb, who said someone heard someone on the NFT negotiating team say that. The union put a silly offer on the table and then, in my view sadly, perhaps misguidedly, hasn't made any effort to clarify the negotiability of any of it since Mr. Webb began making those claims for both sides. The leadership allowed the board president to paint the union's position in a way that was clearly meant by Mr. Webb to isolate them from both the public and their own membership. Effective tactic by Mr. Webb. Bad response (or lack of it) by the NFT.

But to simplify - it doesn't matter if the teachers are completely out in left field and pursuing the most selfish course imaginable or not. The board's publicly stated, published position makes the NFT's stance on health care payments irrelevant, and Mr. Webb's insistence that the union's intransigence on health care is the issue disingenuous.

acs said...

KC, Tell me why then has Boyd not returned to the negotiating table since April of 2008 when the board made its offer. Because she never made a counter offer i.e. we will pay X% healthcare like every other district. The board has played this beyond fair. Oh BTW many of us know factually that boyd told the board negotiators there will be no further discussions until health care participation is totally off the table.
William likely cannot wieght in due to confidentiality but it really is pretty common knowledge that it is the fact. Webb should just sit there as the pain is building on NFT. Oh by the way what does it tell you about the NFT and individual teachers that they really dont care when it this gets settled since only the community and students are hurt by WTC etc, not them.

William O'Connor said...

Things are starting to heat up around here folks. Remember to keep it calm and respectful.

Neo Con said...

C, I agree completely. What laws are there that protect this union from being "busted" it seems like 700 days or whatever number button these teachers are wearing these days has definitely been enough time to say that the district has bargained in good faith. So can anyone tell me what is protecting THEM from being outsourced. Im sure that there are many people graduating this year from Bloomburg, Holy Family, West Chester University, and Temple to fill the empty slots left by unwilling participants that can't or won't step up to the bargaining table and take one for the team. This is the real world, turn on the news people, we are all hurting one way or another let's do what is right for the future of this country instead of arguing for our own piece of pie. Educating should be a selfless act unless you took a teaching job merely for the free medical/dental and summers off. We are all at a cross roads right now and we MUST make the hard decisions and SACRIFICES that will get our society out of this mess so that our future generations can have some shot at a decent life, and that must start here at the local level.

As the teachers union shows "solidarity" so must we, we need to show them that it's not about them that it is and always will be about our future, whom they are teaching.

KClarinet said...

"Because she never made a counter offer i.e. we will pay X% healthcare like every other district."

Why bother - Mr. Webb has already closed the door on that kind of counter. That said, I wish she'd done it anyway.

"Oh BTW many of us know factually that boyd told the board negotiators there will be no further discussions until health care participation is totally off the table."

I don't see how you "know." As far as I know, only Mr. Webb and the person to whom the remark was supposedly made know. And I don't think (I may be wrong) that Mr. Webb told the Courier it was Ms. Boyd who said it - just some unidentified member of the NFT team. In any case it wasn't a public statement and we have no idea what the context was, assuming the remark was made as Mr. Webb related it.

"Oh by the way what does it tell you about the NFT and individual teachers that they really dont care when it this gets settled..."

I don't know that nor believe it. You must have some information source that I lack.

"but it really is pretty common knowledge that it is the fact. "

Among whom? The ubiquitous "they?"
Most people's only source is Mr. Webb. If you have another independent one, you're holding back.

acs said...

I do not intend for a back and forth. Blog comments should be taken for what you wish. Accept or do not it matters not to me. My souces are firm.
The fact remains however that the ball has been in the NFT's court since now everyoneMUST pay for some Healthcare.

C said...

hisenNeo Con you hit it on the mark What a wonderful reply someone out there gets what I have been saying there are no laws holding this board back from pulling the trigger on the NFT.
ACS I don't care about Act 1 or 4 years from now is 8 or 9 million better than 6 million savings next year if you are willing to outsource the little guy why not take the bully out at the same time. Why put off till tommorow what you can do today.If you got rid of NESPA and NFT now in 5 years you could pay off the note on the High School and still have surplus capital left. This would help the taxpayers and the programs our children need NOW.

Tax payer said...

Please set people straight - there is no way the board can fire all of the teachers - all of those types of comments inflame the situation - they do not speak for the entire community - I am a taxpayer and parent and I want this resolved fairly. You run the blog - stop the misinformation.

William O'Connor said...

I and others have clarified that teachers cannot simply be fired for economic reasons, but some folks like to just throw out that "fire 'em all" rant regardless. If you ever read the Courier blog you will see the same thing. One guy named Rocco keeps saying fire them even though he has been told time and time again that is not possible in PA.

acs said...

What bothers me even more than the fire them crowd, although the RI SD was able to do just that, is the people that say they want compromise. That is even more crazy. People need to look closely at the budget. The fact is that anything above the board's last offer is not affordable to the district at all, i.e. we could not cover the cost with taxes allowed under Act 1. In fact is the offer the board has is barely affordable if it is at all. The board's last offer is way too generous given the last 2 years of deficits especially if Services are not outsourced.