Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Media weighs in on WTC

In case you missed last night's Fox 29 News at 10, here is a report they filed . . .

And a few excerpts from this morning's Courier Times editorial . . .

Like their brethren in the Pennsbury School District, teachers in Neshaminy are now taking their frustrations out on the children. A bit cowardly in our view since the kids can't fight back.

We refer to a union-directed work-to-contract plan for Neshaminy High School. Dissatisfied with the pace and substance of contract negotiations, the union has outlined a plan of action - more accurately, inaction - that essentially directs teachers to boycott anything outside the classroom. Call it a work slowdown: No new bulletin boards, no parent phone calls, no volunteer work, and no attending orientation, gym night, homecoming or the prom. The list goes on.

Dampening the atmosphere at the school has no direct impact on school board members with whom the teachers are at odds. It affects the kids. And that affects parents, who the union apparently expects to pressure the school board.

You can read the entire editorial by clicking here.


Patti said...

Of course the Union Rep is not available for comment, she is never available to comment on any issues! Perhaps the teachers need to get a new Union Rep that will come to the table to talk out issues or comment so that the taxpayers can here all sides of the story.
As for the bare walls and only doing what their contracts say is a disgrace! Some teachers are following this already in the Middle School and only teaching what is needed. Work assignments and text books have already been taking off the websites! Who are they hurting? The KIDS! I remember in past comments from the teachers that they were there for the kids, what has changed?
The salary that the teachers are currently being paid is a wonderful salary - average $81,000 a year! If you add in their health insurance - average $1,000 a month that is an average salary of $93,000 a year and only working 9 months out of the year. In the work place reviews are completed in order to get raises, promotions, etc. Perhaps parents should be completing reviews for our teachers, beacuse right now, MOST of them would not be getting a RAISE!
As the old saying goes - "You can't get blood from a stone"! If there is no money in the budget, you can't get a raise! I say FIRE them all and start with new teachers that want to work!

William O'Connor said...

To Str8 Shutr and others - I am well aware of the other story in the newspaper and I am choosing not to post it on this blog. In my opinion, it only distracts the public from the real issues at hand. If you want to make comments on that story, you can feel free to do so over at the Courier blog.

As always, thank you for contacting me.


Many of the teachers are not happy about having to follow their union's work to contract plan, atleast this is what I am hearing through the students.

I've also heard many teachers would be fine with contributing to their health care. That is what I have heard from some teachers who live in our community.

I don't think their union leader is doing a good job of representing them. The article this morning in the Bucks County Courier should not make any teacher proud.

Gabriel said...

Thank you William for staying above the fray. The comments in the courier blog are foul and horrible. This does not contribute to a resolution in Neshaminy's contract and budget problems. As others have said before, keep your eye on the ball.

RVN6869 said...

Mr. O'Conner,

Thank you for taking the High ground.

acs said...

It would be inappropriate for anyone on the board to comment on Ms. Boyd's personal issues.

Susan said...

Yes, Mr. O'Connor - thanks for choosing the high road.

With respect to the the WTC, there's something that's been puzzling me for a long time. Regardless of your profession - doctor, lawyer, groundskeeper, bus driver, and yes teacher - isn't your profession a choice? And as such, don't you enter into that choice in full awareness of what it entails? When you become a teacher, don't you for instance know that it isn't a 9-5 job? Don't you know that there will be paperwork likely to fall outside the traditional work day? Don't you know, or at least surmise, that you'll be asked to volunteer for certain assignments? The operative word here is "volunteer" - which indicates you have a choice to say yes or no.

I've worked in office administration for a number of years now. Most of the companies I chose to work for provided basics as far as supplies were concerned. Most of them offered benefits with an employee contribution. Most of these jobs had a set schedule. However, my work ethic personally mandated going above and beyond - my choice. I chose to incur out of pocket expenses for certain supplies because it made my work environment more enjoyable for me; again, my choice. I entered into those positions knowing what the employer would and wouldn't do or cover.

I once left a very good job with a major health system when all overtime was cut and responsibilities increased for which we would not be compensated, so I understand a teachers perspective of not wanting to "work for free". I had a choice to make: either stay and work within the confines of the system and adjust my expectations, or leave and find other employment. I chose to find other employment.

As many parents have said, we and our children have been blessed with many, many great teachers. It is because of several of these teachers that my daughter wishes to pursue a teaching career. I hope I have raised her to make her choices with an open mind. I have endeavored to make her understand that any job is what you choose to make of it, and that means that you either have to work within the system or make another choice to change.

KClarinet said...


WTC isn't a career choice, it's a tactic in a (hopefully) temporary contract dispute. Everyone involved knows teaching isn't a 9-5 job. No one - least of all the teachers - likes "working to the contract."

Oppose it or support it, it's only a tactic meant to demonstrate how much more inclusive the job is than just what's done during the 7 hour contracted day as well as teachers' dissatisfaction with the negotiating process. That teachers have accepted extra "unpaid" hours as part of their career choice isn't the point and would get no argument from the teachers themselves.

Levittowner said...

At this point, I don't really care to read how much the teachers feel so bad about WTC. I'm tired of hearing about how they have worked without a contract for 2 years, and they had to do something more drastic. I'm tired of hearing that if only we parents knew the BIG secret of what the union has on the table we would understand and support them while they hurt our kids. They do not get my- or other parents I talked with- pity.

Per their own admission, their pay included those non-contracted items..that is why they get paid so well. WTC comes across as nothing more than a child having a temper tantrum. A child that has now hurt our children.
Most of us parents don't believe the union wants to make real concession and this WTC will NOT pressure us parents to try and pressure the board to meet the union's demands.

Am I mad? Darn straight!

Jack said...

Enough of the rhetoric already... negotiate! BOTH SIDES! I am getting so tired of this.

First of all, William, great job taking the high road on the "other article" in the local rag. (Wink wink!) You even allowed other references to it (tsk tsk).

A simple pieman in a neighboring school district is for no strieks by teachers. Problem is, he doesn't propose an alternative. Well here is mine; it is a form of binding arbitration:

1. Both sides sit down and frame the issues. Are there any both sides can agree on? If so, agree and take off the table.

2. Negotiate, try to resolve as reasonable adults. Close any issues that can be hammered out.

3. Once negotiation breakdown (as they presumably will); board of mediators (independent fact finders?) brought into negotiation for a set number of sessions (five? or no progree seen). Each side is then given 24 hrs to come up with their best proposal on any remaining issues.

4. Offers are presented to opposing side and they have 24 hrs to accept or decline - as is.

5. If no acceptance, both offers are given to the panel and they have 30 days to choose one or the other no compromise now.

6. The contract will be based on the one deemed "the fairest" with the kicker that the losing side will have 10 kick in an additional 1 million dollars a year for the life of the contract. (Forces both sides to put realistic offer on the table. Can be in the form of additional payment for medical or other.) Don't like someone else deciding your fate, reach a compromise earlier.

As far as, "we can't afford it chants, there will be layoffs!" This is the tail wagging the dog. Services should be based on need not what we can afford. If you don't need 17 teachers (because classroom size can be bigger) .. get rid of them.

This is not good for the community, this is not valuing teaching profession...settle now.

acs said...

Jack, they only group not negotiating is the teachers. The board has been more than fair and generous in negotiating. Once teachers agree to the needed healthcare concession of 15 16 17 % everything else can be discussed. Boyd has refused to discuss any healthcare contribution since day one. The district should be in no hurry to settle until teachers agree to healthcare contribution.

RVN6869 said...

There are some people that feel that because the Teachers have done what was asked of them by their union, with this WTC effort. That we the Taxpayers and Parents should now all of a sudden cave in and fold up out tents and get out of Dodge.

Not going to happen. This School Board has presented a FAIR contract and it was not accepted. And I for one believe that the NTF has no interest in settling as long as they don't have to dip into their pockets to pay for their benefits. All this talk about not having a contract for two years is for sympathy and to make themselves look good.

The ones that are effected most by this action ( no contract )are the newest Teachers that are at a lower pay scale. They aren't able to start getting their raises until the contract is settled. Those on the high end of the pay scale are not too worried about it.

Many in the District are on fixed incomes, the well is dry. But in the near future, we will have to dig deeper into our pockets to make up for the loss in the Teachers retirement funds. Anybody helping all of us with 401k retirement funds. I don't hear anybody knocking on my door or calling to say they are going to replace our lost funds.

They can at least help by paying some of their own health insurance. The pension fund is another story and Harrisburg has to change that.

CF009 said...

I posted this on another site. I am a bit passionate about this. I am FAR from perfect so I am not trying to preach but I think that this attitude of anger/frustration/hate/confusion towards the teachers NEEDS to be controlled in a mature manner. Let's watch the "gang-on" mentality. Just my thoughts:
Why shouldn't kids take sides; that is what their parents do? Why shouldn't kids talk with disrespect about people, especially people in authority since that is what their parents do?
Parents I have been at a bus stop and heard other mothers talk about the teachers as if they are garbage. Their kids were standing right next to them. You may or may not be a Christian, if you are we are called to act as a Christian. If you are not a Christian your faith also calls you to treat others with respect. These teachers are just trying to protect their livelihood. Which one of us does not try to do the same?

CF009 said...

Jack...well said! I appreciate all your points but one that sticks out is "we are not valuing the teaching profession"
Keep in mind the great majority of these people are professionals. They graduate from college, they go to graduate school. Almost all have a MASTERS degree. They work WAY more than 9 months. They start in mid August (preparing classes work etc.) and do not end till Late June (after school is out). They never (K-8) have a moment to themselves during the day. They are in at 7:30ish and do not leave till after 4. Then they go home correct test, prepare for activities, talk to parents.... They have to deal with cranky parents who blame little Johnny or Joanie getting all C's on the "school" while they spend their evenings watching the Phillies or dancing with the stars!
OK...I am generalizing...How does it feel to be wrapped up with all the other lousy parents. Lets be fair...or at least as fair as you want to be treated!